By Cheryl Tillman Lee
Bessie Bruington Burke, Educator, 1891 – 1968. Burke was born in Los Angeles, a distinguished humanitarian, in addition she became a noted administrative educator.
Mrs. Burke enjoyed a full life giving of herself to many civic organizations.
Most notable, these included the YWCA, NAACP, Native California Club Winfandel and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority. Her parents came from Kansas to Los Angeles by covered wagon in 1877, settling in what is now North Hollywood where Bessie was born. She graduated from Polytechnic High School in 1911 and attended college at Los Angeles State Normal School (now part of UCLA), graduating 7th in a class of 800. She earned her teaching credential in 1911. She attended Berendo Elementary School, Polytechnic High School and the Los Angeles State Normal School, now a part of UCLA, where she received her teaching credential.
In 1911, she became the first Black teacher in the Los Angeles public school system.
Holmes Avenue School was fortunate in having her first as a teacher and then in 1918 as Principal.
Mrs. Burke remained in her position for twenty years. From Holmes, she transferred to Nevin Avenue School, which was racially mixed. She then became one of the first Black principals in the state to head a racially integrated student body.
Faye M. Jackson, Journalist, 1902 – 1979, born in Dallas, Texas, Fay Jackson came to Los Angeles at the age of sixteen. After graduating from Polytechnic High School in 1922, Jackson entered USC to study journalism.
Eager to start both a career and a family, Jackson never completed her studies, but began to pursue her writing in earnest.
In 1928, she founded Flash, a news magazine dedicated to examining the economic, social and political needs of Black people. Jackson went on to become the first Hollywood correspondent, and one of the first European correspondents for the Associated Negro Press, comprising 216 newspapers.
During her tenure, Jackson covered the coronation of King George VI of England and was the only Black American woman seated in Westminster Abbey during the coronation.
Margaret Johnson Scott, Civic Leader, 1862 – 1969. Scott, known to most as “Aunt Maggie,” was born in Charlotte, North Carolina. Mrs. Scott spent her early years in Atlanta, Georgia, where she met and married John Scott.
The Scotts called Atlanta “home” for the first twelve years of their marriage before moving to the then small town of Los Angeles.
The turn of the century marked the Scott’s first business venture when they erected Scott’s Hall at 5th and Central.
Both John and Margaret Scott were pioneer members of First AME Church, and took active roles in the development of the church.
One of the things Maggie Scott will most be remembered for is the co-founding of the Sojourner Truth Industrial Club in 1904.
Mrs. Scott served the organization for fifty years. A guiding force in the NAACP fundraising drives of the 1920s; Scott raised over ten thousand dollars through “baby contests” she conducted. Maggie Scott lived to be 106 years young.