Writing For Silenced Voices

Delilah L. Beasley

“Author and columnist, a native of Ohio and for 25 years a resident in Oakland.”

Delilah L. Beasley was born on September 9th in 1871 in Cincinnati Ohio, the oldest of five children. Her work as a columnist began in 1883 where she contributed to the Cleveland Gazette and the Cincinnati, Ohio Enquirer and studied journalism under Dan Rudd, a publisher for the Colored Catholic Tribune in Cincinnati. She moved to Oakland, California in 1910. She joined a black population that was only 3.055 strong while attending and studying at the University of California Berkeley. She began contributing to the Oakland Sunshine and Western Outlook where she wrote primarily to this small but mighty black audience. Shortly after, Beasley published her first book in 1919 called The Trail-Blazers of California. She had collected and compiled records (Going through the California Archives in the Bancroft Library at UC Berkeley) from all of the newspapers written by black people she could get her hands on. These records contained diaries, biographical sketches, poetry, photographs, old papers, court cases, legislation, and hundreds of names of black people who lived in California from the pioneer period to the 19th century, an account of history that was incredibly groundbreaking in a time where the history of black people was often left untold. The popularity of Beasley’s book propelled her into position as a columnist for the Oakland Tribune. In her column Activities Among Negroes, she attempted to paint a positive picture of the black community to her white readers. Throughout her time in Oakland she worked for organizations including the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the Alameda Country of Women Voters, and various others while attempting to create a space where black voices were welcome, due to the overwhelming amount of space taken up by primarily white voices. Beasley even helped promote and defend the creation of the International House at UC Berkeley, which would become a residence for people of color attending the University. In 1933 Beasley urged assemblymen to introduce an anti-lynching law that became the first mob legislation to be passed in all of California. Finally on August 18th of 1934, Delilah L. Beasley passed away and was buried in Saint Mary Cemetery in Oakland.

Cite this Page:

Yesenia Checa, “Writing For Silenced Voices,” Street Stories: Oakland, accessed December 14, 2017, http://streetstoriesoakland.com/items/show/6.

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