Throwback Thursday: A Modern Day Educator


From time to time, on the front cover of this magazine, photographs of some of the outstanding women of our Race have appeared. It is always interesting to read about women’s achievements and learn about their various accomplishments. So it is with no small degree of pleasure that this issue presents the picture of Dr. Eva Beatrice Dykes, whose name, while it has not yet appeared on the front pages of daily newspapers or magazines, is quite widely known in educational and philanthropic circles. Dr. Dykes was born in Washington, D. C. Her grandparents on her mother’s side were enslaved people on the estate of Governor Warfield of Howard County, Maryland.

After the Civil War, they moved to Washington so that their children might have the best educational advantages. Miss Dykes is a niece of the late Dr. James H. Howard, also of Washington, D. C., who was the founder of the first Seventh-day Adventist school for girls in Abyssinia, Africa.

Dr. Dykes received her early education and training in the District of Columbia public schools. Surrounded by the learning and lore of the nation’s capitol, she absorbed her books with a ready will and developed a keen, strong intellect.

In 1914, she graduated from Howard University with an A.B. degree. Howard University is a sort of “family institution,” as it were, for Dr. Dykes’ father, two uncles, and two sisters are also numbered among its graduates.

With her craving for knowledge still unsatisfied, she journeyed to Boston, Massachusetts, to become a student at Radcliffe College, the ” Women’s Harvard.” From there, she received her A.B., A.M., and Ph.D. degrees, majoring in English.

It may well be said in the words of one writer: “In shining distinctness, it is pointed out that the chief qualification of woman is her spiritual intuition. She is endowed with the ability to perceive the real values of life. Her capacity and loyalty in love are but variations of her ability to penetrate to the core of all things involving spiritual values.”

Doctor George Washington Carver of Tuskegee
Institute, shaking hands with Henry Ford.

Dr. Dykes is fundamentally religious and a devout Christian. Like Mary of Bethany, whose broken jar of ointment filled the house with fragrance, so the quiet, unpretentious influence of this modest little woman’s life has been a fragrance to lighten the hearts of all with whom she has come in contact.

She is dependable, a woman as good as her word, which is a refreshing trait these days when human nature is so little to be trusted. As an Associate Professor of English at Howard University and a teacher in the Dunbar High School in Washington, D. C., Miss Dykes holds the respect of her students and fellow workers, as they realize in her those rare qualities of intellect and personality which set her apart as a benefactor of her race.

But this versatile woman is not content to teach only. Her ambitious desires have led her into various other endeavors also. She demonstrates no small ability in the field of music, being an accompanist of note, appearing in recitals with such artists as Florence Cole Talbert, coloratura soprano, and Joseph Douglass, violinist. She is also a member of the Musicians’ Guild of Washington, a branch of the National Association of Negro Musicians.

She has also achieved a degree of recognition in the field of writing. Beginning as associate editor of the Howard Alumnus, she has appeared with articles of exceptional quality in religious and denominational periodicals from time to time. She has also written articles of an informative nature on the theme of her hobby—Negro music and composers—for college and educational journals.

Dr. Dykes works quietly but achieves much. And with it all, she is never too tired, never too busy, to help a fellow in need, to give the “cup of cold water” to any who may be in want: Of her, it may indeed be said that she is among others as one who serves, patterning her life after that of the meek and lowly Nazarene.

Originally published in Message Magazine’s July 1938 Edition.

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