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Delilah W. Pierce is considered one of Washington, DC’s “Six Washington Masters.”
From Jo Ann Lewis’s 1996 article:
Tibbs’s collection has not gone unseen here.
He organized several important exhibitions at the house-museum over the years, including “Surrealism and the Afro-American Artist.” In 1983, “Six Washington Masters,” featuring works by Richard Dempsey, Lois Jones, Delilah Pierce, James Porter, Alma Thomas and James Wells, helped revive the forgotten careers of several of these artists.
Click to read: Corcoran To Be Given African American Art.
Delilah W. Pierce is mentioned in Black Women of the Harlem Renaissance Era. In the chapter about close friend, Lois Mailou Jones, artist, it was said that it was her membership in The District of Columbia Art Association (DCAA) that, “provided long-standing bonds with such artists as Delilah W. Pierce, Peter L. Robinson Jr…and Alma Thomas.”
Read more: Black Women of the Harlem Renaissance Era.
Black Women of the Harlem Renaissance was edited by Lean’tin L. Bracks and Jessie Carney Smith. It was published in 2014 by Rowman & Littlefield.
Delilah W. Pierce in Smithsonian Year: Annual Report of the Smithsonian Institution for the Year Ended September 30
Delilah W. Pierce was very involved with the Smithsonian Institution throughout her life. In 1992 Delilah was published in: Delilah W. Pierce in Smithsonian Year: Annual Report of the Smithsonian Institution for the Year Ended September 30. The author was the Smithsonian Institution and was published by the Smithsonian Institution Press in 1992.
Delilah W. Pierce & Joseph Pierce Attend National Council of Negro Women Puerto Rico Send Off Party On August 25, 1979
Delilah W. and Joseph Pierce were fierce advocates for social and economic empowerment in the United States and around the world. On August 25, 1979 they both attended a party at the home of local Washington, DC artist S. Bruce Brown. The party was to support the National Council of Negro Women’s efforts to help empower Puerto Rican women. Please take a moment to read Nikki Nakatani’s Baltimore Afro-American Washington Sidelights.
Known as the Gold Coast, the upper NW Washington, DC neighborhood is well respected for its affluent African American dwellers. Joseph and Delilah W. Pierce were among the select group.
Delilah and her Gold Coast dwellers had a club called The Neighbors and they regularly got together to socialize, especially during the holiday. It was an annual event at Fort McNair. Many in the African American social elite considered The Neighbors holiday party to be the season kickoff event.
Click to read: Bright and Jolly – I’m Cutting Holly By Nikki Nakatani.
Delilah W. Pierce Exhibited At A Tribute For The First African American Painter Of Note – Lois Mailou Jones At Martin Luther King Library, 1979
In February of 1979 Delilah W. Pierce was asked to exhibit at a tribute to artist Lois Mailou Jones (November 3, 1905 – June 9, 1998) held at the Martin Luther King Library in Washington, DC. Lois Mailou Jones and Delilah W. Pierce were more than peers in the visual arts. They both summered and have homes on Martha’s Vineyard Island, and in Washington, DC, they traveled the world together to share their talents with the international community; and were advocates of education, women’s rights, civil rights, and human rights. Ms. Jones is also buried in Oak Bluffs Cemetery (Martha’s Vineyard) where they both remain a fixture in the rich history of that island. Lois Mailou Jones was a leader in expanding black art perceptions, and art perceptions as a whole.
Afro American reporter Charles Hall wrote in his 1979 article:
“More and more, she [Lois Mailou Jones] is being called America’s first black female painter of note. Edmonia Lewis, sculptor, Augusta Savage, sculptor, and Laura Waring, portraitist, were among the women who preceded her and proves their skills in several media.
None, however, dealt exclusively and masterfully with all phases of painting.”
Ms. Jones’ paintings can be found at The Boston Museum of Fine Arts (Boston, MA), Hirshhorn Museum (Washington, DC), and in Dr. Bill Cosby’s private collection to name a few.
- Lois Mailou Jones exhibit features ‘Black Women’ By Charles Hall (Baltimore Afro-American)
- Who is Lois Mailou Jones?
- Delilah W. Pierce Very Much Part Of Black Arts Movement: Expanding Black Identity Perceptions
- Delilah W. Pierce Mentioned In Recent Martha’s Vineyard Magazine Article
- Delilah W Pierce Featured In: Six Washington Masters
- Delilah W. Pierce Featured In The Art of Black American Women
Delilah W. Pierce Exhibited At The Second World Black & African Festival Of Arts & Culture In Nigeria 1977
In 1975 Delilah W. Pierce was selected to exhibit at the second World Black & African Festival Of Arts & Culture. It was reported in the The Washington Afro-American the festival would be held in the spring or fall of 1976. However, the festival wasn’t approved by the United Nation General Assembly until November 1976 and was held in 1977, from January 15th to February 12th in Lagos, Nigeria.
Affirmed by UN Resolution A/RES/31/41 in November of 1976, the World Black and African Festival of Arts and Culture carried out the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (article 15 under A/RES/21/2200) which:
Reaffirms the right of everyone to participate in the preservation and development of culture.
The UN General Assembly was,
Convinced that the forthcoming Second World Black and African Festival of Arts and Culture will contribute immensely to the promotion of international co-operation and understanding,
- Commends the efforts made thus far by the international community, including international organizations and the International Festival Committee, in the preparations for the Second World Black and African Festival of Arts and Culture;
- Notes with appreciation the efforts made by Nigeria in its capacity as host country for the Festival;
- Appeals to all interested and concerned countries to make all possible efforts at the national and international levels towards ensuring the success of the Festival.
According to researched complied from Wikipedia, the festival took place in 1977:
In 1977, from 15 January to 12 February, the Second World Festival of Black Arts or Black and African Festival of Arts and Culture – known as FESTAC ’77- took place in Lagos, Nigeria, under the patronage of President Olusegun Obasanjo. Attended by more than 17,000 participants from over 50 countries, it was the largest cultural event ever held on the African continent.
The festivals were planned as Pan-African celebrations, and ranged in content from performance – particularly dance and theatre – to debate.
- Delilah W. Pierce Selected To Exhibit At The Second World Black & African Festival Of Arts & Culture
- UN General Assembly, Second World Black and African Festival of Arts and Culture
- Black and African Festival of Arts and Culture – FESTAC ’77
- International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
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.
Phi Delta Kappa was not only interested in making an impact on education in America, they also focused efforts on making an international impact. In 1952 they sent between 500 to 700 books to Liberia. During that time, Phi Delta Kappa also sent more than 1,500 books to, “their children’s reading room in Monrovia,” according to Mrs. Helen W. Maxwell, national chairman of the organization’s Liberian Project. But their service and commitment to education internationally didn’t stop there. According to Edna A. Davis, the sorority’s eastern region’s representative to Bard College 1952 Summer Institute on Human Relations, Phi Delta Kappa planned to send Delilah W. Pierce to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) https://en.unesco.org in Paris. There is not any known published information at this point if that project ever occurred.
Learn more about the: Phi Delta Kappa’s Service Projects in 1952.
President Harry Truman was the President of the United States from 1945 to 1953, a time of grand expectations in post WWII America. He succeeded President Franklin D. Roosevelt after he died. President Truman had big shoes to fill after President Roosevelt’s historic New Deal. One of those shoes to fill was America’s changing culture and an increased sense of expectations. Some of those expectations included an increase in funding for public education. Many education advocates at the time felt as if public education needed increased funding in order to prepare all Americans for post WWII life. Though President Truman supported President Roosevelt’s New Deal, during his presidency he was a fiscal conservative who questioned federal involvement in state education and thought that his presidency was not a time for “experiments.” According to President Truman:
When I say I am opposed to Federal control of the schools, I mean I am opposed to control by any officer or department of the Federal Government, whether it be the United States Office of Education, the Federal Security Agency, or any other bureau or official. I, therefore, do not understand how the relationship between any of these offices or agencies is of any relevance to the problem of keeping the schools of America free of Federal control. (Harry S. Truman Library & Museum).
Delilah W. Pierce was the chairman of public affairs for the National Sorority of Phi Delta Kappa at the time and is on record, according to the National Education Association of the United States, as asking the 81st Congress to pass an adequate federal-aid-to-education bill. Delilah W. Pierce and Phi Delta Kappa:
[F]avored federal aid to education under state and local control, to assist the states in…equalizing educational opportunity for all the youth of our nation regardless of race or creed.
Learn more about: Today’s Education, Volume 39.