Jump to Navigation

Elisha Scott, Sr.

Photo of Elisha Scott, 1950s

African American attorney. 1890-1963

Elisha Scott, Sr, was born in Memphis Tennessee in 1890. His family later moved to Lane Street in west Topeka, in the community of Tennessee Town. As a youth he possessed a strong drive and a quick wit, which attracted the eye of the prominent minister Charles M. Sheldon. Scott was one of the students who attended the Tennessee Town kindergarten.

Sheldon helped Scott enroll at the Kansas Technical Institute, which was an all African American vocational school. With financial support from Sheldon and his own abilities to succeed, Elisha Scott went on to earn his law degree from Washburn Law School in 1916. He was the third African American to graduate from Washburn, and the only African American student in his class.

During his long career as an attorney, he argued many civil rights and school segregation cases throughout Kansas and the Midwest. Scott provided legal help for the victims of the Tulsa lynchings in 1921. He represented plaintiffs in the Kansas Supreme Court case Thurman-Watts v. The Board of Education of the City of Coffeyville in 1924. Scott represented families in Johnson County in the Kansas Supreme Court case Webb v. School District No. 90, which gained entrance for black students in a local elementary school. He gained a reputation in Kansas as taking the most impossible cases, and winning them.

Scott's two sons, John and Charles, joined him in his law firm of Scott, Scott, Scott, and Jackson. His sons would make history by assisting with the 1951 U.S. District Court case leading to Brown v. Board of Education.

We invite readers to contribute to this article.

Entry: Scott, Elisha Sr.

Author: Kansas Historical Society

Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.

Date Created: May 2009

Date Modified: September 2020

The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.