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Clarissa Scott Delaney
The birth of Clarissa Scott Delaney in 1901 is celebrated on this date. She was a Black educator, poet, and social worker.
She was born Clarissa M. Scott in Tuskegee, AL. Her father, Emmett J. Scott was secretary to Booker T. Washington, founder of Tuskegee Institute. After her early years in the South, she was sent to New England where she was educated at Bradford Academy. She then attended Wellesley College, where she graduated from Phi Beta Kappa in 1923. She was an active college student. She was a member of Delta Sigma Theta, of the debating team, and of the Christian Association, and she played varsity field hockey.
During her Wellesley years, she also attended meetings in Boston of the Literary Guild, where young Blacks gathered weekly to listen to featured speakers such as Claude McKay. This began her political and literary work, in an environment that helped shape her ideas on art and literature. As a Black woman, she began her identification with the Harlem Renaissance. After college, Scott traveled through Europe.
When she returned, she moved to Washington, D.C., where she taught at Dunbar High School. She continued to write and to publish in Opportunity. Like her colleagues among the Harlem writers, she wrote about Pan Africanism, superstition, and the Mulatto, among other topics.
She won a prize for one of her poems entitled "Solace," published in Opportunity, in 1925. That same year she also wrote a play, "Dixie to Broadway," and the poem, "A Golden Afternoon in Germany.”
One year later Scott married a young lawyer, Hubert T. Delaney, in Washington, D.C., and they moved to New York City. In New York, she worked as a social worker, with the National Urban League and Woman’s City Club of New York. One project was to gather statistics for a "Study of Delinquent and Neglected Negro Children."
She died in 1927 of a kidney disease, which was probably a reaction to the streptococcal infection she had had for six months. According to a Wellesley classmate, her family established a "YWCA Camp Clarissa Scott" in 1931 on the Chesapeake Bay. Because her life was cut tragically short, she only published four poems.
The Poetry of the Negro, 1746-1970
Langston Hughes, and Arna Bontemps
New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc. 1970