Republicans in History: Delilah Beasley

From humble beginnings, Delilah Beasley studied and worked her way through life.  She was the oldest of five and orphaned when she was just a teenager.  She started writing for the Cleveland Gazette in 1883.  Delilah arrived in California in 1910 from her birthplace Ohio.  She studied and did research at the University of California, Berkeley.  She wrote essays which were presented at local churches.  The result of her research was the book “The Negro Trail Blazers of California” which documented the contributions of African Americans to the early days of California and established Delilah as an important historian of black history.  She became the first black woman to be published regularly in a major newspaper with a weekly column entitled “Activities Among Negroes” first published in the Oakland Tribune in 1923 until her death in 1934.

Delilah Beasley is important because of her impact on the world around her at that time.  She caused fellow newspaper writers to cease the practice of using derogatory terms to refer to black people in the print media.  She lobbied two fellow Republican California State Assemblymen, William F. Knowland and Frederick M. Roberts to introduce the first anti-lynching law that was passed unanimously by both houses.  Delilah campaigned vigorously for the establishment of the multicultural International House at the University of California, Berkeley standing up to the landlords and the surrounding community which were concerned with the area being overrun by blacks and asians.  She used her work as a journalist to promote the achievements of successful black men and women and establish the foundation for expanded interracial integration during the Depression era of the 1930s. In 1932, Delilah Beasley organized the donation of a painting by a black artist to the Oakland Municipal Art Museum’s permanent collection.

Delilah Beasley was an activist who used her influence to create positive change in the relationship between the races and society at large.  Delilah was a Republican.