With Black History Month starting Wednesday, a number of events will celebrate the contributions of Black Americans.
“We strive all year long to make sure that we’re telling the complete history of Delaware, not just during Black History Month, or Women’s History Month, or whatever month it happens to be,” said Daniel Citron, historic sites team manager at Delaware’s Division of Historical & Cultural Affairs.
Museums and school books often focus only on the people who were in power, he said.
While there’s value in learning about those folks, it’s equally important to learn about what others were contributing to the country.
“The founding fathers were coming up with these grand ideas and these revolutionary ideas and inspiring others,” he said, “But then there were the people who were doing those day-to-day jobs of literally building what would become the United States.”
Hearing the full story will help citizens educate themselves in how Black history is intertwined with America’s existence, he said.
“Yes, February is Black History Month, but our goal is to not only use programs and displays in February. This is something that we work on year round,” said Catherine Wimberley, programs and services coordinator for New Castle County Libraries.
Wimberley recommended checking local libraries’ websites to see what events they have to celebrate Black History Month.
For a calendar of all 34 public libraries, including virtual events, click here.
“Representation matters and it’s important for our residents to see themselves reflected in successful individuals who look like them,” Wimberley said. “The programs throughout the state definitely honor the legacy and achievements and highlight that representation while at the same time acknowledging our faults and struggles as a country and community.”
Here are some programs throughout the month of February:
Delaware State University: Our nationally recognized HBCU will screen “Out of Omaha” in Parlor C of the Martin Luther King Jr. Student Center at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 2
The 90-minute documentary provides an intimate portrait of twin brothers Darcell and Darrell Trotter, two young black men coming of age in the racially and economically divided Midwestern town of Omaha, Nebraska. A panel discussion will follow the film.
New Castle County: A celebration of Black culture will begin Saturday, Feb. 4 at 11 a.m. at the YMCA on Walnut Street in Wilmington. The free event will explore the roots of African culture through performances, demonstrations, history displays and food tastings.
Merchants who will be there include TESS African Braiding, Twins Bid African Clothing, poet Samara Weaver; Jewels by Jess; artist Demetrius Motion Bullock and more.
To register for the event or to sign up to volunteer, click here.
Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs: The Old State House in Dover will host discussions about the site believed to be the final resting place for enslaved and free Black men, women and children who died on the John Dickinson Plantation.
The program will be repeated at 10:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 3 p.m.
The Hockessin Public Library: Vertie Lee, curator of education for the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affair, Gloria Henry, site supervisor of the John Dickinson Plantation, will talk about the site’s African burial ground and the Plantation Stories Project.
Delaware State University: Dr. Julius Garvey, the son of Black history figure Marcus Garvey will be a guest speaker at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 7 at DSU.
He will share his perspective on the life of his father, who came to the U.S. in 1916 to become a prominent advocate for black separatism and Negro self-reliance. Garvey provided a counter argument to the integrationist philosophy of prominent civil rights intellectual W.E.B. DuBois.
The event will be at the Education and Humanities Theatre on campus.
Delaware State University: At noon, Delaware State University historian Carlos Holmes will give a presentation on the 132-year history of Delaware State University in the Martin Luther King Jr. Student Center’s Parlor C.
Zwaanendael Museum livestream: The Division of Historical & Cultural affairs is hosting a livestreamed virtual presentation on the museum’s exhibit “Segregated Sands” and the oral history project “Recapturing Black Beaches.”
It will be streamed over Zoom. Admission is free but registration is required by clicking here.
The Old State House: The Dover icon will host a free event about Delaware laws at 10:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 3 p.m.
Juliette Wurm, lead historic site interpreter at the New Castle Court House Museum, will explore bias and racism written in the laws of Delaware from the American Revolution to Reconstruction and how those laws were enforced.
Laurel Public Library: Starting at 5 p.m., a free event will feature some of the Underground Railroad Coalition of Delaware’s current projects including a new video, “The Tilly Escape,” about one of Harriet Tubman’s rescue missions in the Seaford area.
Delaware State University: A “Discovering your Roots” workshop will be held in MLK Jr. Student Center at 7 p.m.
It will share tools that are available for people to begin researching their ancestors. The program will discuss the use of public records, documents, ancestry portal and other resources accessible for beginners.
Participants will learn how to verify documents to ensure that the information is accurate.
The Old State House: At 1 p.m., historic-site interpreter Gavin Malone will explore the constitutional amendments after the Civil War, the first federal civil rights acts, Delaware’s political climate and reactions to federal legislation ending with the Plessy decision.
Historic Odessa: At 4:30 p.m, the historic foundation will present a youth program, “Escape to Freedom: The Odessa Story.”
It will include readings describing the stories of enslaved people trying to make their way north to freedom.
Students will then be escorted to the Corbit-Sharp House where they will follow in the footsteps of Sam, a fugitive slave who is given refuge in Odessa while being hunted by a group of slave-catchers.
This event is for students in grades three through 12 and requires a reservation. Contact Jennifer Cabell Kostik at 302-378-4119 or [email protected]
Free tours of the Historic Odessa’s National Park Service Network to Freedom exhibit and National Historic Landmark Corbit-Sharp House also will be available Feb. 1, Feb. 8 and Feb. 22 from noon to 3 p.m.
Delaware State University: From 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. DSU’s Student Government Association will host a “Living Black Museum,” a business expo and a fashion show at the MLK Jr. Student Centers.
The Expo will give student entrepreneurs the opportunity to highlight their businesses, with a variety of goods for purchase. The fashion show will highlight student creativity and flair by modeling the latest designs and fashions for Gen Z.
New Castle Court House Museum: At noon, Juliette Wurm, lead historic-site interpreter at the museum, will explore bias and racism written into the laws of Delaware from the American Revolution to Reconstruction and how those laws were enforced.
The Old State House: At 1 p.m., a multimedia presentation examines the roles played by Chuck Berry, Little Richard, James Brown, Fats Domino, Sister Rosetta Tharpe and the Detroit-based Motown Records in establishing soul music, rock and roll, and rhythm and blues.
It will also include biographies, musical recordings and video clips from the 1940s through the 1960s.
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Raised in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, Jarek earned a B.A. in journalism and a B.A. in political science from Temple University in 2021. After running CNN’s Michael Smerconish’s YouTube channel, Jarek became a reporter for the Bucks County Herald before joining Delaware LIVE News.
Jarek can be reached by email at [email protected] or by phone at (215) 450-9982. Follow him on Twitter @jarekrutz and on LinkedIn
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