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Diana M. Pierson
*On this date, in 1888, Diana McNeil Pierson was born. She was a Black educator and missionary.
From Pluka, Maryland, Liberia, she was the daughter of a soldier named Mr. Fish and was adopted by a missionary named Elizabeth McNeil. Young McNeil came to America at three to attend a general missionary conference. She first attended school in Lancaster, PA, the home of her foster father. She also attended Walden University Prep. School and graduated from Monrovia H. S. in Monrovia, California. Soon after High School, McNeil entered the University of Southern California, double majoring in history and English.
The first Black to attend USC, her Master’s thesis was on “Liberian Republic: Experiment in Government.” McNeil received her B. A. in 1909 and her M. A. in 1910 from USC. She returned to her homeland to teach English at the College of West Africa. Health issues caused her to return to America, where McNeil soon began teaching at Philander Smith College in Little Rock, Ark. During this time, she met and married Professor Pierson, who taught at the same school. The couple eventually moved to Marshall, TX, where they spent the next thirty years teaching at Wiley College.
After her retirement, they moved to Houston. Diana McNeil Pierson died on August 20, 1971.