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Five Views: An Ethnic Historic Site Survey for California



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A History of Black Americans in California:

Daniel Scott's School Site
Visalia, Tulare County

For 15 years after its admission to the union as a free state, California barred Black children from its public educational system. After 1865, the legislature provided general funds for separate "colored schools" in school districts with 10 or more Black applications. In districts where trustees did not choose to establish a separate colored school, Black children could attain an education only through private institutions.

The earliest record of a graded primary school for Visalia's Black youths dates back just two years before the California Legislature's 1875 decision to abolish its separate school system. Until that time, Visalia's Black school-age children were not being afforded a public education even in a separate "colored school."

Daniel Scott, an Afro-American educator trained in the northeastern United States, purchased a small house on a lot in Block 105 of the Aughinbough Addition December 29, 1873, with the intent of establishing a school for Black youths. For two years previous, Scott had been employed as a private tutor on the Wylie Hinds ranch. Once Scott opened his school, Visalia school trustees approached him to enroll Black and Mexican children who were applying but being denied admission to the public school. In exchange for the service, Scott received a small fee. This arrangement seems to have been the inception of public-supported education for Visalia's Black children. When Scott's school closed in 1875, the trustees voted to establish a school for Black and Mexican children. The new facility, located on Houston and West Streets (now the Dinuba Highway) outside the city limits, was opened in 1876. Established exactly one year after the State Legislature abolished separate schools, the school was operated by the district for 12 years. Visalia's separate school was not closed until the California Supreme Court, in Wysinger v. Crookshank (1890), found the system unconstitutional.

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