Delilah Leontium Beasley (1871-1934), an American writer, became the first person to document the history of California’s black pioneers with her landmark book The Negro Trail-Blazers of California, self-published 100 years ago. Beasley was a pioneer in other ways as well. She held the distinction of being one of the first African American women to write a column in a major metropolitan newspaper, the Oakland Tribune. As a self-made historian and journalist, she envisioned a copy of her book in every public library in California.
Trailblazer: Delilah Beasley’s California resurrects Beasley’s legacy by reimagining her life through the fiction of writer Dana Johnson. This limited edition publication also includes a biographical essay on Beasley by Ana Cecilia Alvarez, and introductions by Julia Meltzer and Jennifer A. Watts. The publication reproduces some of the extensive photographic portraits of black Californians collected by Beasley, as well as photographs from the African American Museum and Library at Oakland. It is a unique and much-needed collection that pays respect to the invaluable contributions of an unsung American trailblazer.
Dana Johnson's work was part of Beside the Edge of the World exhibition at The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens, Nov. 9 2019 - Feb. 24 2020.
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