The Sacramento County Board of Education voted yesterday to name a new Sacramento County Office of Education (SCOE) community school after Nathaniel S. Colley, Sr., the late Sacramento attorney and civil rights leader. The new junior/senior high school, which is currently under construction, is located near the corner of Gerber Road and Power Inn Road.
In 1948, Colley opened a law practice and became Sacramento’s only African American attorney. In addition to representing clients in his private practice, he championed public causes, including civil rights. In 1960, Governor Edmund “Pat” Brown appointed Colley to California’s State Board of Education, making him the first African American to serve on the board. Between 1961 and 1962, he served on President John F. Kennedy’s Committee on Equal Opportunity in the Armed Forces.
In the landmark case Ming v. Horgan, Colley persuaded the United States Supreme Court that those receiving federal funds could not engage in discrimination. He fought for the repeal of California Proposition 14 (ultimately leading to the creation of the California Fair Employment and Housing Act), and also led efforts against housing and education discrimination in California. A member of the National Bar Association’s Hall of Fame, the attorney taught part-time for 17 years at the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law.
SCOE broke ground on the new school on July 2, 2020. The 3.6 acre, 12,000 square foot campus will replace Gerber Jr./Sr. High School, serving both secondary and young adult students. Construction is expected to be finished by this July.