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


Delilah W. Pierce & Phi Delta Kappa’s Service Projects in 1952

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) 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.

Delilah W. Pierce & Phi Delta Kappa Service Projects 1952.

Delilah W. Pierce & Phi Delta Kappa Service Projects 1952.

Delilah W. Pierce Participated In Phi Delta Kappa Sorority Luncheon 1962

Delilah W. Pierce attended the 1962 sorority luncheon celebrating founders’ day. Members from 5 cities were in attendance.

About Phi Delta Kappa

Dr. Gladys Merrit Ross, Julia Asbury Barnes, Dr. Florence Steele Hunt, Dr. Gladys Cannon Nunery, Ella Wells Butler, Mildred Morris Williams, Edna McConnell and Marguerite Gross

It was Palm Sunday, April 23, 1923, that Miss Gladys Merritt discussed the possibilities of organizing a sorority in Jersey City. Only one of the eight attending the organizational meeting decided to decline. Friday came and they voted in favor of a permanent organization which was incorporated by a Newark attorney, J. Mercer Burrell. Dr. G.E. Cannon, Mr. J.L. Merritt, Mrs. Lottie Cooper, and Mrs. Estelle Morris became their trustees.

The date of incorporation was May 23, 1923 which has become our Founders’ Day. The Sorority spread from the East to the South, Midwest, Southwest, Far West, to Liberia in West Africa, and Barbados, West Indies.

Click to learn more: Phi Delta Kappas Of Five Cities At Ritual.

Delilah W Pierce & Founders Day Celebration 1962

Delilah W Pierce & Founders Day Celebration 1962

Additional Information