Delilah Leontium Beasley

Delilah Leontium Beasley

Cincinnati, Hamilton County, Ohio, USA
Death 18 Aug 1934 (aged 62)
San Leandro, Alameda County, California, USA
Burial Oakland, Alameda County, California, USA
Plot Section Y, 15, 52
Memorial ID 76820292 · View Source
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Ms. Beasley was an American historian, and newspaper columnist for the Oakland Tribune, Oakland, California, USA. She becomes the first African American woman to be published regularly in a major metropolitan newspaper.

Beasley was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, the oldest of five children in the family of Daniel Beasley, an engineer, and Margaret Harris, a homemaker. After her parents' death while she was still a teenager, Beasley had to find a full time job to support herself, she pursued a career as a trained masseuse. She began her newspaper career in 1883 writing for a black newspaper the Cleveland Gazette, founded by Harry C. Smith. She wrote briefly about church and social activities. Three years later, she published her first column in the Sunday Cincinnati, Ohio, Enquirer under the headline "Mosaics". Beasley studied journalism under Dan Rudd, a well-known newspaper publisher of the Colored Catholic Tribune in Cincinnati.

In 1910, at age 39, Beasley moved to Oakland, California, attending lectures and researching at University of California, Berkeley and writing essays for presentations at local churches. In 1910 the African American population in Oakland was 3,055. The small black population supported a flowering of indigenous institutions and community formation in the 10s and 20s. Among these institutions were various black-owned small businesses, churches, and private social organizations. In addition, several black newspapers were published in Oakland, including the Oakland Sunshine, which began publication in 1902, publisher William Prince, and the Western Outlook, established in 1894, publishers J. S. Francis and J. L. Derrick. Jesse Wysinger became the editor on October 22, 1921. In 1915, Beasley wrote for a black audience in the Oakland Sunshine.

As a writer, Beasley has the distinction of being the first person to have presented written proof of the existence of California black pioneers, in her writings, Slavery in California (1918) and her classic, The Negro Trail-Blazers of California (1919), a pioneering work in the field of California black history.

In 1934, Jesse Wysinger's wife, Lena M. Wysinger, took over Delilah Beasley's Activities Among Negroes column in the major metropolitan newspaper the Oakland Tribune after her death. The columnist position Lena held until the early 1940s.

Source: Delilah L. Beasley, at Wikipedia
African American reporter and historian. She attended the city's segregated public schools and by her teenage years, started publishing short social reports on the black community for both the local black newspaper and the white newspaper. She settled in Oakland, California, working as a nurse and maid while immersing herself in black history and the black women's club network. Soon she was writing special columns on African American community activities for the local newspapers, including the white Oakland Tribune and the black Oakland Sunshine. Her interest in history led her to write other articles documenting the history of California's black population, and she trained herself in the practices of the emerging historical profession including archival research, tracking down diaries and personal papers, and even doing oral histories with older black residents. In 1919, she self-published The Negro Trail Blazers of California, a study which provided rich detail of black pioneers dating back to the Spanish exploration of the region. Throughout the rest of her life, she continued to write, participate in black women's club activities and the local chapter of the NAACP. She died in 1934 after years of ill-health brought on by poverty and overwork. To this day her writings remain among the critical sources for both black California and African American women's history.


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  • Created by: Myra Wysinger
  • Added: 20 Sep 2011
  • Find a Grave Memorial 76820292
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Delilah Leontium Beasley (9 Sep 1871–18 Aug 1934), Find a Grave Memorial no. 76820292, citing Saint Mary's Cemetery, Oakland, Alameda County, California, USA ; Maintained by Myra Wysinger (contributor 47591359) .