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Tue, 08.07.1888

Diana McNeil Pierson, Educator born

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 first came to America at the age of three to be present at 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, having a double major of 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. It was during this time that 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.

USC Office of Black Alumni Programs
University of Southern California
Widney Alumni House
635 Childs Way
Los Angeles, CA 90089-0461

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