Clarissa Scott Delany (1901-1927)

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Clarissa Scott Delany (May 22, 1901 - October 11, 1927) published four poems and several journal articles in Opportunity: A Journal of Negro Life. She also wrote a play called Dixie to Broadway. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Wellesley College, and attended Literary Guild meetings in Boston along with other African American youth to hear speakers such as writer Claude McKay. After graduation, she traveled in Europe, then moved to Washington, D.C. to teach at Dunbar High School. Delany kept writing for Opportunity while she taught, and later said that teaching was not her calling. Her poem “Solace,” published in Opportunity, won a prize in 1925. Delany went on to work as a social worker in New York City. She worked with the National Urban League and Woman’s City Club of New York to get statistics for a “Study of Delinquent and Neglected Negro Children” before her death. After her early death from kidney disease at age 26, her family established a “YWCA Camp Clarissa Scott” on the Chesapeake Bay in 1931 in her memory. Delany’s poetry was filled with metaphors of nature, unique language, and intense emotions.

  • info from Kim Roberts Biographical collection*

Written by Word Works intern Monica Root October 2013; edited by Kim Roberts, January 2016.

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