Wednesday, February 25, 2015


This post, like the others, is for a two-column, back-to-back handout, commemorating Women's History Month.

Weaving the Stories
of Women’s Lives

March is National Women’s History Month, and 2015 is the 35th anniversary of the National Women’s History Project. In celebration of this landmark anniversary, we have chosen nine women as 2015 Honorees who have contributed in very special ways to our work of “writing women back into history.” Together, these 2015 Honorees have written, co-authored, or edited more than 60 books. Collectively, their creations reveal the depth and breadth of the multicultural female experience. They have woven women’s stories into the fabric of our history.

One of these women is Delilah L. Beasley. Ms. Beasley was a historian and newspaper columnist, and was the first African-American woman to be regularly published in a major metropolitan newspaper and the first author to present the history of African Americans in early California.

Delilah L. Beasley (1867-1934)
Historian and Newspaper Columnist

Growing up in Ohio, Beasley started writing social columns for black and white newspapers while still a teenager. After her parents’ deaths, she sought a career path that would better support her younger siblings, working as a hairdresser, massage therapist, nurse, and maid for many years. In 1910 she moved to Oakland California where she immersed herself in the local black community and again started writing articles in local newspapers.
In 1915 Beasley started writing a weekly column in the Oakland Tribune. Her articles protested the stereotypes contained in the movie The Birth of a Nation. Through a column called “Activities among

Negroes,” she campaigned for African-American dignity and rights. Highlighting activities of local churches, women’s clubs, literary societies, along with national politics, and achievements of black men and women, her column aimed to give all readers a positive picture of the black community and demonstrate the capabilities of African Americans.
Deeply interested in the history of black Californians, Beasley trained herself in archival research and oral histories. In 1919 she self-published The Negro Trail-Blazers of California, a groundbreaking book chronicling the lives of hundreds of black Californians from the pioneer period through the early 20th century. Her book included an unprecedented amount of Black women’s history, focusing on the strong roles women played in their communities and featuring countless biographies of women leaders.
In the thirties, Beasley was the driving force behind the passage California’s first anti-lynching bill.  She continued her column and was active in the community until her death in 1934.
At her memorial service, which was a testament to her life-long crusade for justice, all attending stood and made the following pledge—

Every life casts its shadow;
my life plus others make power to move the world. 
I, therefore, pledge my life to the living work
of brotherhood and material understanding
between the races.

(Taken from website of United Methodist Women)

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