class of 1870 with teacher Mary J. Sanderson 5

The Brooklyn Colored School was at 1008 - 10th Avenue and served the African American children from the town of Brooklyn, as well as Oakland from 1867 to 1871. Miss Mary J. Sanderson (later Mrs. Mary Sanderson-Grasses) was the first teacher. A newspaper article in 1871 noted that the school housed 18 students, most of whom were from Oakland. 2

Miss Sanderson was considered an excellent and kind instructor, who continued to teach at the Oakland school until families in the district began to move in search of better employment opportunities. As at least ten children had to attend the district school in order for it to remain open, when three families moved away the school was forced to close. 1

An article published in 1872 asserted that the school was closed because Mrs. Grasses decided to give up teaching as a career, 3 but Beasley's book says it was because many of the families moved from the area, and with the integration of the Oakland schools, was no longer necessary. Regardless, following the closure of the school in 1872, schools in both Brooklyn and Oakland were integrated. 4

1902 Sanborn map

The school was located in "the old Manning house". After the school was closed, it was the home of Oakland Sunshine newspaper founder John A. Wilds and his family. 1 The school's building was about as close you could get to the Southern Pacific yards at the time.

Links and References

  1. The Negro Trail Blazers of California by Delilah Beasley
  2. Oakland Items Daily Alta California, July 27, 1871
  3. Colored Children in Public Schools, The Elevator, May 4, 1872
  4. Colored Children in the Public Schools of Oakland Pacific Appeal, May 11, 1872
  5. Oakland History Room