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Who Is Elizabeth Carter Brooks?

Updated: Mar 2, 2022

She was young - successful and black. Her name was Elizabeth Carter Brooks. My grammar school, arguably called "the best grammar school in the district", was respectfully named after her.

It was 1975, my first day of kindergarten. Yes, I do remember! Holding my moms hand, I entered the school doors and was ushered to Miss Lafrances' class for my first day of school. As I walked towards the seemingly long, long corridor, my five year old eyes caught a glimpse of a portrait. Was she a girl or a woman of age? I did not know, but I did know it was a portrait of a woman of color from the "olden days."

Throughout the years, I recall staring at the portrait while waiting in single file to enter the lunch room. In all my years at my favorite school, I do not recall a teacher ever explaining who or why "the best elementary school on the planet" was named after her. I only knew that she was black, and her name was Elizabeth Carter Brooks.

It seems, due to the Underground Railroad pathway, many blacks settled here in New Bedford. Frederick Douglass is well known, although little know of his New Bedford roots. Click here to learn more about Mr Douglass and his time in the Southcoast.

I recently wrote a blog about hair guru Madam C.J. Walker. I was fascinated to learn that Madam Walker was friends with Elizabeth Carter Brooks! In a recent YouTube interview with the Southcoast Almanac, Madam Walkers great great granddaughter A'Leila Bundles, spoke of their friendship. Both were philanthropists and fought for Womens suffrage. They clearly shared common interests and each had adopted a young woman of "promise." Elizabeth was an architect, a social activist, an educator, and wanted equality for all. Her special attention to educating children and lifting lives of the elderly, make her one special person, especially to me. Its no wonder that the "best elementary school on the planet" is named after her!

There are so many things to learn about history, especially our own. Learning is forever.... So continue reading about Elizabeth here in the New Bedford Whaling Museums "Lighting The Way - Historic Women Of The Southcoast"

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