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*The birth of Elizabeth Thorn Scott Flood is celebrated on this date in 1828. She was a 19th-century Black educator and activist.
Elizabeth Thorn was born a free woman in New York state. In New Bedford, Massachusetts, she received a good education and married her first husband, Joseph Scott. In 1852, Elizabeth and her husband moved to California and settled in Placerville. Joseph worked as a gold miner and died shortly after their arrival, leaving Scott Flood alone to care for their son Oliver. Feeling that Placerville was not the adequate place for a Black widow and her young son, she moved to Sacramento, which had a sizable Black population.
Arriving in Sacramento, her attempts to enroll Oliver in the local public school were stopped. They did not accept Black students, not by law, but by tradition. With the help of the local church, in 1854, she opened a small private school for non-white children at her home, on Second Street, between M and N Streets. In her school, Scott was the teacher and received a salary of $50 a month from the parents of the students attending the school. Her school initially had only Black students, but before long, she began to take in Native and Asian students as well. At that school, students ranged in age from four, to twenty-nine years old. A few months later, the Sacramento school board decided to take over the administration of the school but not to provide funding, and an arrangement that Scott accepted but without giving up her fight for equal rights for her students.
In 1855, Scott Flood attended the first Colored State Convention in Sacramento. In that convention, Black activists strategized how to lobby California politicians for better representation and basic civil rights, such as the right to vote. During that year, she met her second husband, Isaac Flood. Isaac was a freed slave who had been born in South Carolina and freed at the age of 22. Flood was twelve years older than Scott and also had a son. The couple and their two children soon moved to Brooklyn, California, a thriving small community near Oakland.
By 1857 Scott Flood and Isaac opened a school for Black children at their home on East 15th Street. At the time, Black children did not have access to public schools in Oakland. By 1858, the Floods had three children, were involved in the community, and were one of the most prominent and progressive families in the area. That same year, they helped start the Shiloh African Methodist Episcopal (Shiloh AME) church, the first African Methodist Episcopal church in the area. In 1863, the church purchased an old 20 by 30 building and moved it to Second and Market Streets. The building had been an old school for white children that had been abandoned. With that building, the Shiloh AME took over the school and used the building for church services as well as the school.
Scott Flood continued to teach at the school until her death in 1867. The local school laws did not allow African American students into public schools until 1872, but in 1866, it opened up government-funded schools for African Americans and other non-white children. The Shiloh AME school operated for ten years before closing its doors in 1873. Elizabeth Scott Flood, a teacher who fought for equal education rights for all children in California died unexpectedly in 1867 at age 39. She left behind her husband Isaac and five children.
Although Scott never saw the desegregation of schools, in 1872 the city of Brooklyn began to accept Blacks in its schools and was annexed to Oakland. Scott Flood's youngest daughter, Lydia Flood Jackson was one of the first Black students to attend Oakland schools in 1872. By 1875, all Black schools in the area were closed, and in 1880, the law was changed in the state of California outlawing school segregation.