Black History: Special Delivery!!
Delilah L. Beasley (1871 – 1934), was a black journalist, reporter, and historian. She was born in Cincinnati, OH. Her career in journalism began at the age of 12 when she began writing correspondence for the Cleveland Gazette. She then published her first column in the Sunday Cincinnati Enquirer three years later under the headline, “Mosaics”. Beasley published commentary on social activities within the black community for both the local black and white newspapers. When her parents died in the 1880’s she stopped reporting for a short time so that she could seek employment to support herself. She worked as a domestic, massage therapist, and trained as a hair dresser.
Beasley moved to Oakland, CA in 1910 where she worked as a nurse and domestic. She also became involved with the black women’s club network. In Oakland, she was able to resume her passion of reporting; writing columns on activities within the African American community for local newspapers. Beasley wrote for the white Oakland Tribune and the black Oakland Sunshine. Her column for the Oakland Tribune was called, “Activities Among Negroes”. Beasley’s influence as a journalist had a profound impact, not only on the black community, but also among white journalists as well. It was through her efforts that the white press stopped using words like, “darkie” and “nigger”. They also began to capitalize the “N” in Negro.
Beasley was very interested in the history of blacks in California. She took a particular interest in the roles of black women within the region. Beasley attended lectures at the University of California Berkley and also did research on the history of blacks in the region. She educated herself on how to conduct archival research and began obtaining oral histories from elderly black residents in the area. Beasley self-published “The Negro Trail Blazers of California” in 1919. The book provided a detailed history of black pioneers dating back to when the Spanish explored the region. She also has the distinction of being one of the first people to provide written proof of the history of blacks in California. Beasley died in 1934. Her writings continue to serve as a critical resource in understanding African American history in California.