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Nathaniel S. Colley High School holds dedication ceremony

Before it became the name of a high school in Sacramento, Nathaniel S. Colley, Sr. was a local civil rights leader and attorney.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The Sacramento County Office of Education held a dedication ceremony for Nathaniel S. Colley, Sr. High School on behalf of the late local civil rights leader. 

Before it became the name of a high school in Sacramento, Nathaniel S. Colley, Sr. was a Sacramento civil rights leader and the first African American attorney who fought against racial, social and economic discrimination.

Not only did Colley open a law practice in 1948 as Sacramento's only African American attorney, he also fought to repeal Proposition 14 and helped the housing and education discrimination crisis in California. He won federal anti-discrimination lawsuits and even argued in front of the U.S. Supreme Court. 

Documentarian Chris Lango spent the last 10 years studying Nathaniel Colley's extraordinary life and work.

“Sacramento was the battleground, but the impact was across the country. But I would say he is best known for his efforts in ending segregation in housing by saying he who dips his hand into the pocket of the federal treasury must not complain if a little Democracy clings to it, and the judge bought that argument and Colley won the suit. He then went on to help integrate all housing," Lango told ABC10 in 2021.

The Monday ceremony included musical performances from the Fortune Charter School Drumline, speeches from local leaders, and a special presentation from the Colley family.

Credit: Miguel Cano ABC10

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"It is such a big day for the entire family," Ola Marie Brown, daughter of Nathaniel S. Colley, Sr. told ABC10. "We're so happy to be here and to have our father recognized because he worked so hard for the community and wanted the best for everyone."

Nathaniel S. Colley, Sr. High School opened on August 12, 2021, and its goal is to provide alternative educational programs for students as well as provide support, counseling and career opportunities to students. 

The school also offers a Senior Extension Program that helps current or returning students get back on track and motivated to finish high school and obtain their GED. The program allows students to work with their counselors on a personalized education plan. 

"He wanted young people to persevere, and this school is the perfect place for it," Brown said. "He helped make Sacramento a very diverse city through his work with fair housing and other anti-discrimination laws he pursued."

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