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Lydia Flood Jackson
*Lydia Flood Jackson was born on this date in 1862. She was a Black businesswoman, suffragist, and club woman.
Lydia Flood was born in Brooklyn, California, now annexed to Oakland, California. Her mother was Elizabeth Thorn Scott, and her father was Isaac Flood. Her mother was educated in New Bedford, Massachusetts. She moved to California during the Gold Rush with her husband Joseph Scott, who died shortly after settling, forcing her to raise their son Oliver alone.
In the 1850s, Black children were banned from attending public school, so Scott took it upon herself to establish Sacramento's first school for Black children in her home on May 29, 1854. The school was accepted into Sacramento's school district without funding and only as a segregated school. She taught here until she married Flood's father, Isaac Flood. Isaac Flood was born a slave in South Carolina in 1816. He bought his freedom and moved west to California during the Gold Rush, where he worked as a laborer and tradesman. After they married in 1855, they moved to Oakland. They were among the earliest African American residents and were a prominent family. Isaac Flood made a fortune on real estate in the area, and both advocated for black rights and education.
They also helped create Shiloh African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church in 1858. In 1857, they had a son named George Francis Flood, considered "the first colored child" born in Oakland. The same year, Scott established another private school from their home at 1334 East 15th Street for African Americans and non-white children, including Lydia Flood. Isaac Flood was dedicated to advancing civil rights for African Americans and was part of the California Colored Convention Movement to fight segregation in California schools.
Because of her father’s advocacy, Lydia Flood was the first African American student to attend the integrated John Swett School in 1872. She continued her schooling at night classes at Oakland High School. However, according to the 1940 census, she listed her highest education as 6th grade. After completing her schooling, she married William Jackson. Jackson continued her family's legacy by fighting for racial justice and championing women's rights. She was an active club woman, and first legislative chair, and the first citizenship chair of the California Federation of Colored Women's Clubs.
She also implemented the use of secret ballots in the club's elections. She was a member of the Fanny Jackson Coppin Club for forty-two years and the Native Daughter's Club. She called for women's suffrage at the first meeting of the State Federation of Colored Women's Clubs, which was held in 1918 in Los Angeles. She also acknowledged the suffragists who paved the way and referenced Oakland's namesake oak trees, saying: "Who can break through a phalanx of determined, noble-minded, upright women, backed by the power of the Holy Spirit? Suffrage stands out as one of the component factors of democracy; suffrage is one of the most powerful levers by which we hope to elevate our women to the highest planes of life...Lucretia Mott, Susan B. Anthony, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton saw by an eye of faith this gleaming field sixty years ago, and their determination, true judgment, and executive ability have made it possible for you and me to sit in the shade of the Suffrage Oak, a grand old tree, whose branches will soon top every State in the Union."
She was a political activist and even traveled to Mexico, South America, and the West Indies for lectures. Jackson wanted women to question their conventional roles and the limitations of societal norms. She also wanted women to examine and interrogate white male supremacy as businesswomen and inventors. Lydia Flood Jackson learned from her father how to invest in real estate, allowing her to support herself. She also created a line of beauty products of toiletries, creams, and perfumes known as "Flood Toilet Creams," which were produced and sold on the West Coast. Being a successful businesswoman and activist, she established herself within a group of other Blacks in the community.
In the 1920 United States Federal Census, Lydia Flood Jackson was listed as a widow. By the 1940s, she lived with her nephew, Leslie Flood, his wife Julia T. Flood, and his son Robert F. Flood on 2319 Myrtle Street. On the eightieth anniversary of the Shiloh African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church, Jackson addressed the congregation and spoke of her mother's contributions. On the occasion of Jackson's 100th birthday, she was honored by the City of Oakland as its "oldest living native." She died on July 8, 1963, at the age of 101, at Fairmont Hospital. She is interred at Mountain View Cemetery in Oakland, California. The Flood Family Papers are archived by the Oakland Public Library, in the African American Museum and Library at Oakland, which includes Lydia Flood Jackson's funeral program, letters, and family photographs.