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Delilah W. Pierce Participates In District of Columbia Appropriation Bill For 1941 Hearings Before The Subcommittee Of The Committee On Appropriations United States Senate
As a member of the Phi Delta Kappa Sorority, Delilah W. Pierce fought so that Washington, DC and all underserved school districts, including rural districts, could receive appropriate funding for public education.
Delilah W. Pierce & Her Connection To The First African American Admitted To The National Press Club
Reporter Louis Lautier, who, according the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, is known for being an advocate who successfully achieved integrating the Senate and House press galleries in 1947. Mr. Lautier covered the life of Delilah W. Pierce and highlighted her in his Afro American newspaper Capital Spotlight column. At the time Mr. Lautier was working as a freelance journalist. Mr. Lautier referred to Delilah W. Pierce as a “schoolmarm” when he announced her marriage to Joseph L. Pierce. He also followed her work as the president and delegate of the Phi Delta Kappa sorority. Louis Lautier was also the first African American admitted to the National Press Club.
Click image thumbnails below to review his 1936 & 1947 articles:
Delilah W. Pierce Mentioned In Collecting African American Art by Dr. Halima Taha and published by Crown Publishing Group in 1998.
Learn more about: Collecting African American Art: works on paper and canvas.
Delilah W. Pierce helped expand the Black Arts Movement with her figurative and abstract paintings. Her art helped express the diversity within the black aesthetic, during a time where African Americans were exploring the idea of what it meant to be “BLACK” and how that related to the larger mainstream American culture. This was also a time of women fighting for equality.
The Black Arts Movement is often connected with the protests of the 1960’s. What many forget is the groundswell of black publishing houses, magazines journals and art institutions during the time and how the Black Arts Movement led to the creation of many African American studies programs in universities outside of historically black institutions.
In 2009, the Mint Museum of Art published, along with Lois Mailou Jones Pierre-Noel Trust and Carla M. Hanzal (authors) a historical review of Lois Mailou Jones’ life and artistic career. The book is connected with a traveling exhibition. In the book Ms. Jones talks about the 1960’s and how artists like Delilah W. Pierce and poet Maya Angelou were “pioneers in introducing the movement among [their] students.” Click to learn how you can read: Loïs Mailou Jones: a life in vibrant color.
- Lois Mailou Jones: A Life in Vibrant Color at The Women’s Museum Dallas Art News
- Loïs Mailou Jones: A Life in Vibrant Color New York Public Library
In 1964, president of the Atlantic City branch of Phi Delta Kappa, Delilah W. Pierce received a NAACP life membership for her service. The membership was given through the Atlantic City, NJ branch because Delilah was a past national president (basileus).
The recognition of service was published in W E.B. Du Bios’ The Crisis, Volume 71-72.
The Barnett Aden Gallery, founded in 1943 by James Vernon Herring (1897-1969) and Alonzo Aden (1906-1961), was the first privately owned African American gallery in the United States. It was located in Washington, DC.
Delilah W. Pierce held exhibitions their in 1958, 1959, and 1960 and was actively involved with The Barnett Aden Gallery.
In 1985 Keith Morrison, artist, educator, curator, art critic, and administrator authored: Art in Washington and its Afro-American Presence: 1940-1970. The book was published by the Washington Project for the Arts in 1985. His book, in part, helped to canonize The Barnett Aden Gallery and their important impact on African American artists in the mid to late 20 century. His book is in university libraries throughout the United States and the world.
According to Dr. Janet Gail Abbott and the research compiled in her December 2008 dissertation The Barnett Aden Gallery A Home For Diversity In A Segregated City:
The Barnett Aden…remained the most prominent local throughout the forties…[and] when an early exhibition at the Barnet Aden drew artists and friends from other cities, a local reviewer wrote that “Alma Thomas, Delilah W. Pierce, and Lucille D. Roberts…assisted in receiving the week-end guests….”
Click to learn how you can view Keith Morrison’s book: Art In Washington and Its Afro-American Presence: 1940-1970
Click to visit Keith Morrison’s website: Art In Washington And It’s Afro-American Presence: 1940-1970
Click to read more about Dr. Gail Abbott’s paper: The Barnett Aden Gallery A Home For Diversity In A Segregated City:
On February 12, 1985 the National Museum of American Art in Washington, DC hosted an exhibition and talk entitled: An Evening with Delilah W. Pierce, part of the Continuing Traditions: Festival of Afro-American Arts. The event was one hour long (6 pm to 7 pm). According to Mary Markey with the Smithsonian Institution Archives, “[We] can’t tell what the actual attendance was, but 80 chairs were requested for the hall.”
Delilah W. Pierce is among the permanent collection at the National Museum of American Art.
On September 12, 1950 Delilah W. Pierce was featured in an article highlighting the achievements of a Washington, DC business called The Ethical Prescription Pharmacy. The article was entitled One Million Prescriptions Under Same Ownership Is Proud Record. According to the article she was the first and one-millionth customer of the business, which began in 1929 during the start of the Great Depression (1929-1939). This is significant because of the following:
• African Americans and women in America were fighting for equal rights and a fair shot at the American dream;
• Drug pharmacies were in the process of trying to do a better job of policing themselves and holding themselves accountable for unethical and (or) careless drug dispensary practices.
It goes without saying that the feature of an educated African American woman in Washington, DC during the early to mid 1900’s was an accomplishment by itself. However, Delilah W. Pierce – educator, artist, curator, and advocate, published in a newspaper with African American businessman, Dr. Lewis Terry, that praised him for serving 1 million customers was an even greater accomplishment – Especially when you think about the interesting history of druggist at the time.
For example, pharmacy in America from the 1800’s to the early 1900’s was thought of as a skilled trade. Pharmacy practitioners were trained as apprentices. According to historical records published on Wiki, prior to the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906 America didn’t have higher education requirements or legislation protecting its citizens from the usage of “high-alcoholic content patent medicines, [and] soothing syrups for infants with opium derivatives…” Many pharmacies were both the wholesale manufacturer and distributors of often toxic products, while providing consultation to patients without having a medical degree. In a white paper published by Jones and Bartlett Publishers, entitled Evolution of the Profession and Medication Use Systems:
“Many of the patent medicines sold at the time were inefficacious [and] mislabeled.”
As a result, Elixir Sulfanilamide caused more than 100 people to die because of drug poisoning.
When Dr. Lewis Terry and Dr. Leo L. Williams opened The Ethical Prescription Pharmacy in 1929 during the depression they were solely focused on filling prescriptions. According to the Baltimore Afro-American, it was a “new type of business.” Additionally, they were licensed practitioners who graduated from medical school.
According to the article Dr. Terry Lewis gave Delilah W. Pierce an “especially fixed keepsake…in [a] gold leaf bottle.”
Read the article: One Million Prescriptions Under Same Ownership Is Proud Record, published in the Baltimore Afro American on September 12, 1950.
Learn more by reviewing the following related articles and research:
Delilah W. Pierce & Fellow Artists’ Files For Exhibition Of African-American Women Artists, 1969-1978
According to the Smithsonian Archives of American Art Delilah W. Pierce was to exhibit at The National Women’s Caucus for Art – College Art Association’s Annual meeting in 1979. Emily Martin and Tritobia Benjamin were the co-curators. However, do to the lack of funding the exhibition was cancelled. Learn More: Artists’ files for exhibition of African-American women artists, 1969-1978.