Ruby Cozetta Jefferson (1904-date unknown), A.B. '24

Ruby Cozetta Jefferson Ruby Cozetta Jefferson was born in Holly Springs, Mississippi. The 1920 Mississippi Census shows her as the only daughter of four children to Nelson Jefferson (Carpenter) and Eldora Jefferson (Seamstress). Much like Ida Louise Jackson’s family, the Jefferson family moved away from the oppression of Mississippi. First to Colorado, and then to California, in search of a better life. In fact, Jackson’s oral history mentions how she was acquainted with Jefferson’s family in Mississippi and encouraged them to move to California. Ruby Jefferson was a member of the Rho Chapter of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority and received her A.B. degree in Education in 1924. After graduation, she returned to Los Angeles and worked for the YWCA.

Ruby Jefferson had three younger brothers: Bernard, Edwin, and Ronald. Much of what we know about Jefferson after her time at Berkeley is through her brother Bernard Jefferson. His Oral history in the Hastings Constitutional Law Quarterly, 1987, details their family background.[1] Bernard Jefferson graduated from UCLA and Harvard University and was one of the first African American appointees to a high position in the California judiciary and was known for his significant rulings as a trial judge. Her brother Edwin was also a judge and her youngest brother Ronald was a pediatrician. Bernard Jefferson describes their early life in Mississippi and relays a story about their parents’ desire for their children to get an education. He quotes his mother as saying, “These four children of ours are not going to get any education in Mississippi.”[2] He also mentions that his sister Ruby was a retired elementary school teacher living in Los Angeles. Unlike the obituaries of her brothers, there was no notification of her death in the Los Angeles area newspapers. Nevertheless, their obituaries show that she was still alive in 1989 when her brother Edwin died, but deceased by the time of Bernard Jefferson’s death in 2002.

(Rho Chapter, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority photo of Ruby Cozetta Jefferson courtesy of the African American Museum and Library at Oakland, Oakland Public Library, Oakland, CA – University of California Collection)

[1] Constitutional Law Quarterly, Oral History: Justice Bernard S. Jefferson, 14 Hastings Const. L.Q. 225 (1987). Available at:

[2] Ibid, 229