Delilah W. Pierce

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Delilah W. Pierce Among The First Organized Group Of American Blacks To Travel To Ethiopia In 1962

On June 23 of 1962 Delilah W. Pierce and a group of business owners, educators, and clergy left for an organized trip outside of America. This trip took them to Holland, France, Italy, and Greece. After their Europe tour the group traveled to Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Jerusalem, and a multi-country tour of Africa. Delilah’s sister Mediel Hoskins, a housewife and married to New York City chef Jack Hoskins, also made the trip.

During this time Delilah had also earned the Agnes Meyer Fellowship to travel and study Africa, Europe and the Middle East. The proof of how Delilah’s travels impacted her art work can be seen in a few pieces from the Delilah W. Pierce Collection, for example Sudanese Women.

Delilah’s trip was interesting for many reasons. First, Blacks, women, and labor were fighting for equality and worker rights in America. Second, Ethiopia had just begun a civil war with Eritrea. Eritrea had become a part of Ethiopia after World War II when both were liberated from Italian occupation. The Eritrean Liberation Front (ELF), who never accepted the merging of the two, starting gaining support from Christians. Christians in Eritrea were upper class and highly educated. Ethiopia then revoked Eritrea’s autonomy sparking the Ethiopian Civil War (Also known as the Eritrean War of Independence) in 1961.

Delilah W. Pierce and her travel cohorts wanted to meet with Emperor Haile Selassie who was known internationally as a fierce advocate for Africa’s independence from western rule. Yet, he was not a supporter of Eritrea’s fight for independence from Ethiopia and used force to maintain Ethiopia’s control.  When the unofficial delegation went to his palace to meet with him, they learned that Emperor Selassie went on safari in northern Ethiopia.

The group left Ethiopia for Nigeria (Also see Crisis in Western Nigeria – May 1962), Ghana, and Liberia – All were steeped in social and political change, and civil unrest.

The story ran in both The Washington Afro American and The Afro American.

Delilah W. Pierce Travel Delegation, 1962

Delilah W. Pierce Travel Delegation, 1962

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