Carolyn Jean McPherson Scott, a retired social studies teacher who studied African-American history and was a Fulbright scholar, died of cardiac arrest complications Dec. 30 at Howard County General Hospital. The Columbia resident was 65.
Born in Washington, she was the daughter of William Theodore McPherson and Doris Jean McPherson.
She was a graduate of Saint Cecilia's School in Washington and earned a bachelor's degree and a master's degree, both from Morgan State University.
"She was a courageous and dynamic woman with a determined and fearless spirit," said her daughter, Angela J. Scott, an attorney who lives in Ellicott City. "She enjoyed music, history and travel. Her family was her passion."
Mrs. Scott attended law school at the University of Maryland for two years and also completed studies at the Johns Hopkins University.
She met her future husband, Wayman Anthony Scott III, then a Glenelg resident, at a Morgan State student event.
She joined the Baltimore City Department of Education and taught at Lake Clifton High School in the 1970s.
"As a student teacher in Baltimore at Greenspring Middle School, she demonstrated she could control a class," said her husband. "She had a talent. She impressed a principal and he hired her immediately."
She later moved to the District of Columbia school system and joined the faculty at Woodrow Wilson Senior High School.
Throughout her career in the classroom, she taught African history, U.S. government, U.S. history and world history. She was later director of education at Oak Hill School in Baltimore.
"As she continued to study and grow in her career, my mother became an African-American history scholar," said her daughter. "She focused her passion for knowledge and research skill on redesigning the African-American history curriculum for D.C. public schools."
Her daughter said she created a curriculum that included the origins of mankind in Africa.
Mrs. Scott received three Fulbright scholarships and traveled to Egypt, India and Ethiopia. She was fascinated by Egyptology and started a hieroglyphics club in Columbia. The club evolved into the Columbia Chapter of the Association for the Study of Classical African Civilizations.
She also started a book club study group through the National Association of Business and Professional Black Women.
Mrs. Scott, a distant granddaughter of a slave harness maker named Joe Thoms, was the historian and matriarch of the Thoms family. She worked to win historic designation for the family church, Oak Grove Baptist Church in Madison County, Va., as a National Historic Landmark.
Her daughter said Mrs. Scott traced the family heritage to Western Africa. In the 1990s she and Thoms family members attended a ceremony at the Embassy of Ghana. The embassy staff recognized the Thoms family's African heritage.
Her daughter said Mrs. Scott was an activist and organized protests to protect the rights of African-Americans and marginalized people. She received citations from former Gov. Martin O'Malley and former Howard County Executive Ken Ulman.
Mrs. Scott was diagnosed with ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, in 1999.
"She never accepted her prognosis as defeat," said her daughter. "She lived a good, full and active life. Her story is a story of victory, one where she overcame multiple health challenges."
Her daughter said Mrs. Scott did not let the condition stop her mother from running her home.
"She sat at the computer and ran the world," she said. "She ordered groceries online, planned a wedding and family reunions. She was a positive person and was never sorry for herself."
Services will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday at the First Baptist Church of Guilford, 7504 Oakland Mills Road in Columbia, where she was a member.
In addition to her daughter and husband of 42 years, an accounting manager in the District of Columbia government, she is survived by two sons, Wayman Anthony Scott IV of Baltimore and William Theodore Alexander Scott of Columbia; her mother, Doris McPherson of Landover; and a sister, Marilyn Corder of Largo.