Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Lydia Flood Jackson (1862–1963): Businesswoman and social justice activist

Lydia Flood Jackson was born in Brooklyn (now part of Oakland) in 1862. She was a businesswoman, advocate for women's rights and racial equality.

Flood’s mother, Elizabeth Thorn Scott Flood, led the 19th Century campaign for desegregated education in California and founded the state’s first African American school in Sacramento in 1854. Her father Isaac Flood, one of the first African American residents of Oakland, also fought for education and equality for blacks. In 1871, he led the successful fight to admit black students into the Alameda County schools. Her brother George was believed to be the first African-American child born in Oakland in 1857.

In 1872, she became the first African American child to attend the newly integrated John Swett School in Oakland. Flood continued her education attending night school at Oakland High School and married William Jackson. In part because of the efforts of her parents, the black schools were closed in 1875 and integrated schools became the law in California in 1880.

An entrepreneur and inventor, Lydia Flood founded Flood Toilet Creams, a successful West Coast cosmetic business which manufactured toiletries, creams, and perfumes.

She was also a political activist who traveled to Mexico, the West Indies, and South America on speaking engagements. She rallied audiences with her calls for democracy and questioning of white male supremacy in her speeches. Jackson challenged all women to question stereotypical roles that limited their options. She spoke at the 1918 state women's convention in favor of suffrage. She was present at the 80th anniversary of the First African Methodist Episcopal Church, a church her parents had helped found in 1858 (then Shiloh AME).

At the time of her death at age 101, newspapers claimed she was the oldest native of Oakland. Along with her parents, she is buried in an unmarked grave in the Elks Plot.

SOURCES:, Online Archive of California, San Rafael Daily Independent Journal, OaklandWiki, Oakland Tribune

No comments: