Friday, August 15, 2014

Aurtrilla Scott Made Changes in Jim Crow Southern California

The Late Autrilla Scott Long Beach Community Activist
The Late Autrilla Scott
Long Beach Community Activist
"If you thought racism only occurred in the American Deep South, you're wrong," said Autrilla Scott. "Racism still occurs where race matters enough to change the way people treat each other."

The late Autrilla Scott is one of twelve women profiled in BREAKING THROUGH Lighting the Way, a collection of historical accounts of the lives and experiences African American Long Beach women, who made a difference in the racial history of Long Beach and Southern California. Scott and the others profiled in this collection helped to change Jim Crow Southern California, the way Rosa Parks changed the Jim Crow South.

"You don't know what it's like," said Autrilla Scott. "Unless you've been there."

Autrilla Scott & President William Jefferson Clinton
Autrilla Scott & President
William Jefferson Clinton
The lives of these twelve civil rights era Long Beach black women are chronicled in a project that pays them tribute for their contributions to Southern California race relations. The book was edited by Sunny Nash. Carolyn Smith Watts, a Long Beach community activist and part of a new generation of black Long Beach women, wrote the Foreword. 

A Place Called Hope (Arkansas)

"This study is important to Long Beach, Southern California and the rest of the country," Watts said. "There have been many televisions programs and exhibitions for other areas of the Greater Los Angeles area, but few efforts have been concerned with black women in Long Beach. What an opportunity to study the lives of women like the late Autrilla Scott, who was the nanny for a two-year-old future President Bill Clinton."

Watts, an award-winning community activist and public servant, was a catalyst for the BREAKING THROUGH project in that she initiated the original photograph that inspired her collaboration with Sunny Nash for the book of historical profiles, film, public programs, appearances and, most currently, a traveling exhibition of portraits and historical photographs from the women's personal albums. "This is major for Long Beach," Watts said.

Autrilla Scott  High School Graduation
Autrilla Scott
High School Graduation
The BREAKING THROUGH project not only honors these 12 women but also explores race relations in America and Southern California, strained during the migration of black females coming from the segregated South during World War II primarily for employment. Long Beach was more progressive than towns in Mississippi, Arkansas, Alabama and other parts of the Jim Crow South where some of the 12 black women were born and raised. However, employment, education and housing required racial change these black women helped to make in Long Beach. Many of these women modeled their lives and activities after Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

"We simply broke tradition by continuing to apply over and over again for jobs black women had never held in Long Beach," Scott said. "Long Beach, California, was not perfect, racially, but we did what we could to change Jim Crow. That's how we got them done in employment opportunities and neighborhood improvements."

Autrilla Scott, the only black woman in Long Beach 
With a street named in her honor

Photo source: Release ( accompanying:  Historical Profiles of Long Beach African American Women  by Sunny Nash & Carolyn Smith Watts
Photo source: Release ( accompanying:
Historical Profiles of Long Beach African American Women 
by Sunny Nash & Carolyn Smith Watts\
Autrilla Scott, Long Beach Community Presence & Civil Rights Pioneer, Passes

The late Autrilla Scott and other women in BREAKING THROUGH Lighting the Way are accomplished in a variety of areas--Congressional Gold Medal, nanny to a future president, papers in the Library of Congress, activist who marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and other national, state and local achievements and honors in education, government, civil rights and others.  

In preparing BREAKING THROUGH Lighting the Way, Watts and Nash learned that people of colors all over the nation, including Southern California, have felt the effect of racial oppression at some time in their lives throughout American history. In the beginning, the inability of the United States to take any meaningful steps in race relations was due to the Jim Crow system in place for more than 100 years. The Jim Crow system stymied any attempt at race relations by committed black and white citizens in a nation that reeled from the effects of the Civil War and Reconstruction for nearly a century and continues to be tainted by the emotions of coming generations.

Cover Photo by Carolyn Smiths Watts, Shoreline Village, 
Published in Tuttle Cameras One Camera Project, Exhibited at the Historical Society of Long Beach. 
(Standing left to right): Evelyn Knight marched with Martin Luther King from Selma to Montgomery; Patricia Lofland, first black member of Long Beach City College Board of Trustees; Bobbie Smith, first black LB woman elected to public office and has a school named for her; Alta Cooke, first black high school principal; Carrie Bryant, city’s first black private school operator; Vera Mulkey, the City’s first black Chief of Staff; Wilma Powell, the nation’s first female Chief Wharfinger; Doris Topsy-Elvord, first African American Long Beach Harbor Commissioner & first black female LB Vice Mayor; (Seated left to right): Autrilla Scott, city’s first black LB citizen with street named for her; Maycie Herrington, recipient of a Congressional Gold Medal; Dale Clinton’s letter to President Johnson is archived at the Library of Congress; and (not present): Lillie Mae Wesley, neighborhood parent for 30 years with LB Parks & Recreation.

Grand Opening
Long Beach Public Library
(101 Pacific Ave.)
3:00 p.m. Tuesday, September 29, 2015, 
Atrium Center & Theater, 
2:00 p.m. Press Conference
Loraine & Earl Burns Miller Special Collections Room
2:00 p.m. Reception 
Atrium Garden

The multifaceted signature project, BREAKING THROUGH Lighting the Way Exhibition, is comprised of archival portraiture, ancestral photographic restorations, artifacts, historic papers, archaic document reproductions, memorabilia, and newspaper and magazine clippings collected, organized by award-winning humanitarian Carolyn Smith Watts, and award-winning author and photojournalist Sunny Nash, on 12 African American Women who made a Difference in the Cultural History of Long Beach, California.


The Port of Long Beach demonstrated its commitment to equal employment access and professional opportunity over the years by appointing the first female Chief Wharfinger in the nation, one of the Legends of this project; and continues that commitment with its support of this project.

Sponsors, donors, partners and contributors committed to date are listed here. Others will be joining the list in the near future. All are welcome to LIKE the Legends on FaceBook.

In 2015, after Nash won a 2015 Arts Council for Long Beach Professional Artist Fellowship to design a Museum Catalogue and restore photographs, BREAKING THROUGH Lighting the Way became a Signature Project of photo restorations, artifacts, document reproductions, ancestral papers and online resources.

Molina Healthcare

For more than 30 years, Molina has been providing quality, affordable health care to individuals and families covered by government programs. 


Andy Street 
Community Association

BREAKING THROUGH Lighting the Way Exhibition previewed at the Andy Street Community Association's Bixby Knolls EXPO Event in February. Hundreds of spectators were able to get a glimpse of the coming exhibition, scheduled to open in September. 

At the June 5th First Friday Event in Bixby Knolls, there will be an exhibit preview at the Historical Society of Long Beach featuring 230 collective years of educational accomplishments of the 12 Legends of BREAKING THROUGH Lighting the Way.

Tuttle Cameras Long Beach
Based on the collection of historical profiles, published in 2007, edited by Sunny Nash, and foreword by Carolyn Smith Wattswhose award-winning photograph of the Long Beach Living Legends was published in the Tuttle Cameras book, One Camera Long Beach.

Chick-fil-A Towne Center, Long Beach

John Howard of the Chick-fil-A Towne Center Long Beach was present that crisp sunny day in September at the Shoreline Village photo session when the historic picture of the Legends was taken.

International Realty & Investments

The project also includes oral history, new photo/video capture and recently discovered images and artifacts that will also be included in a series of television programs on LBTV, the Television Station owned and operated by the City of Long Beach.


City of Long Beach

Long Beach dignitaries will attend and participate in The Grand Opening. Southern California Media organizations will be invited to a Press Conference at 2:00 p.m. in the Loraine & Earl Burns Miller Special Collections Room of the Long Beach Public Library.

Long Beach Public Library, Main Branch
The Long Beach Public Library will host the event in its Atrium Center & Theater off of City Hall Public Plaza, 101 Pacific Ave., Long Beach, California. There will a VIP Reception in the Atrium Garden prior to the program and the screening of a film and online resources.


Long Beach City College
Long Beach Unified 
School District

Long Beach City College (LBCC) and Long Beach Unified School District (LBUSD) will play equally significant roles in as education partners in advertising the event to their respective constituents. Both have student bodies and faculty to which they will provide electronic announcements on their Internet and broadcast communication systems. Both LBCC and LBUSD can lay claim to several Legends, who either taught, served as officials or attended both LBCC and LBUSD

Los Angeles County 
Sheriff's Department
Los Angeles Sheriff's Department in collaboration with the Long Beach Unified School District will participate in a mini-exhibit and event at Jordan High School, where student government officers will also be present to participate in a seminar involving one of the Legends who was an official of the school.

This event commemorates the historical relationship between Long Beach Unified School District and Los Angeles Sheriff's Department.

Content © Copyright 2015 BREAKING THROUGH  Lighting the WayAll Rights Reserved Worldwide.

~Thank You~

© 2014 Sunny Nash. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.

Breaking Through Lighting the Way

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