Historical Profiles of Long Beach African American Women

Sunny Nash & Carolyn Smith Watts celebrate the lives of 12 Long Beach, California, African American women who made a difference in the city's history in a book, BREAKING THROUGH, Lighting the Way.
Autrilla Scott Lane Named for Community Service
Autrilla Scott Lane Named for Community Service
Oct. 25, 2010 - PRLog -- “These women form the foundation of the struggle for equality on so many fronts,” said Sunny Nash, among the distinguished worldwide scholars to contribute to the eight-volume African American National Biography, edited by Henry Louis Gates and Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, and produced by Harvard and Oxford.

“We all know women like Doris Topsy-Elvord, Wilma Powell, Vera Mulkey, Carrie Bryant, Alta Cooke, Bobbie Smith, Patricia Lofland, Evelyn Knight, Dale Clinton, Maycie Herrington, Autrilla Scott and Lillie Mae Wesley, even in our own families,” said Nash, editor of BREAKING THROUGH, Lighting the Way. “There are women of this quality in every community. Other groups can use BREAKING THROUGH, Lighting the Way as a model to commemorate the contributions of women in their communities.”

BREAKING THROUGH, Lighting the Way coordinator and author of the book's foreword, Carolyn Smith Watts, said, “I am blessed to have known these women and I have a wonderful relationship with many. These 12 women have contributed over six hundred years of experience to Long Beach. In the past fifty years, they have mothered hundreds children, some of whom were their own and others were neighborhood children who needed love and support. Yes, of course, there are other women in Long Beach, California, with thousands of stories and each one invaluable.“

Born in 1930 in Hope, Arkansas, Autrilla Scott cleaned houses until she graduated from high school in 1950, afterwhich, she went to business college, married Olen Scott and moved to Long Beach in 1955. Autrilla Scott told Free Republic, the Premier Conservative Site on the Net, "When I was cleaning Roger Clinton's apartment, he came by with a little boy two or three years old and asked me if I could babysit while he and the child's mother, Virginia Blythe, went on a date."

Autrilla Scott, one of the 12 women in BREAKING THROUGH, Lighting the Way, is the author of "Stories from the Past" and has a street named in her honor for community service. Scott told Free Republic, after her initial contact with little Billy Blythe, she babysat the child many times. After Roger Clinton and Virginia Blythe married, Billy Blythe eventually took his stepfather's last name, becoming William Jefferson Clinton. Years later, the child, looked after by Autrilla Scott, was elected 42nd President of the United States.

Executive Director of the Historical Society of Long Beach and author of the book's preface, Julie Bartolotto, said, “Many women profiled in BREAKING THROUGH, Lighting the Way were part of that movement of people from the nation’s Deep South and Northeast to the West Coast. Their efforts made life better for their families and their community–and for current and future generations of Long Beach residents of all racial and ethnic backgrounds.”

The Historical Society of Long Beach, California, (HSLB) has collected and preserved the city's history for nearly 50 years and has dedicated a permanent repository for artifacts contributed by the women featured in BREAKING THROUGH, Lighting the Way. Since 1962, HSLB has collected more than 100,000 items, including documents, maps, photographs, books, scrapbooks, yearbooks, architectural pieces, textiles, uniforms, advertisements, menus, postcards, blueprints, publications, telephone and address directories, historical inventories, biographies and early memorabilia documenting Long Beach amusement.  

“By living their lives beyond what seemed possible, these women demonstrated personal and professional survival and service to their fellow human beings, raising  the level of goodness in the world,” said Nash, award-winning author of her family memoir, Bigmama Didn’t Shop At Woolworth’s (Texas A&M University Press), recognized by the American Association of University Presses for its value to understanding race relations in the United States. “The contributions of these 12 women to their community are incalculable.”

A recurring theme in the conversations of this pioneering dozen was being prepared, meaning education, training and experience as the primary route they chose to become successful, advising the next generation of women to follow the same formula. However, all of the woman placed helping others, family and friends, above any personal ambition they may have had for themselves.

“One of the most important lessons young people can learn from these 12 incredible women is to be dedicated to their dreams and be willing to make certain sacrifices to nurture their dreams,” Nash said. “Time is a sacrifice that must be made to become educated in the area of interest. Although nothing is guaranteed in this life, education is a necessary part of preparing for a successful future. Study, one solid method of giving a dream a fair chance to become a reality, grooms a person for the inevitable competition of those who may have the same dream.”

Below is a video produced by Sunny Nash of the BREAKING THROUGH, Lighting the Way photo session by Carolyn Smith Watts, community reception and program held at the Long Beach Public Library, which includes presentations to the BREAKING THROUGH, Lighting the Way pioneering dozen by the BREAKING THROUGH, Young'uns, the next generation of pioneering women of Long Beach, whose book is also being produced by Sunny Nash and Carolyn Smith Watts.

Internationally acclaimed photographer, Sunny Nash’s photography is featured in Reflections in Black: A History of Black Photographers 1840 – Present (W.W. Norton, New York), collected by the Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C.; and recognized by Women In Photography International. Nash is an award-winning producer who writes regularly for Ancestry and other historical publications and illustrates articles with her own photography and historic reproductions.

Sunny Nash's book, Bigmama Didn’t Shop At Woolworth’s, can be purchased at all major book stores, domestic and international, and the Republic of Texas Museum in Austin, operated by the Daughters of the Republic of Texas, whose mission since 1891 has been to preserve historic structures and landmarks of Texas, such as the Alamo in San Antonio, and Texas heritage documented in books, stories and newspaper columns like those by Sunny Nash. To buy Bigmama Didn’t Shop At Woolworth’s by Sunny Nash, follow the Texas Museum link below:
Visit Sunny Nash's Blog: http://www.sunnynash.blogspot.com

# # #

Sunny Nash, author of Bigmama Didn't Shop At Woolworth's, is an award-winning writer, photographer, producer and public speaker. Her work appears in the African American National Biography by Harvard and Oxford; African American West, A Century of Short Stories; Reflections in Black, A History of Black Photography 1840 - Present; Ancestry Magazine; Companion to Southern Literature; Black Genesis: A Resource Book for African-American Genealogy; African American Foodways; Southwestern American Literature Journal and other anthologies. Nash is listed in references: The Source: a guidebook to American genealogy; Bibliographic Guide to Black Studies; Interdisciplinary Journal for Germanic Linguistics; Ebony Magazine; Southern Exposure; Hidden Sources: Family History in Unlikely Places; and others.

Buy Bigmama Didn’t Shop At Woolworth’s by Sunny Nash:
Visit Sunny Nash's Blog: http://www.sunnynash.blogspot.com
Email:***@rocketmail.com Email Verified
Tags:Sunny Nash, Hope Arkansas, Bill Clinton, Free Republic, Autrilla Scott, Black Women, Historical Society Of L
Industry:Books, Education, Literature
Location:California - United States
Account Email Address Verified     Account Phone Number Verified     Disclaimer     Report Abuse
Page Updated Last on: Feb 10, 2011
KSUN Media News
Most Viewed
Daily News

Like PRLog?
Click to Share