civil war cook
Civil War Cook

"One of the less dismaying aspects of race relations in the United States is that their improvement is not a matter of a few people having a great deal of courage. It is a matter of a great many people having just a little courage." Margaret Halsey, 1946 .

The legacy of the institution of slavery reaches far into American Society even into this new millennium. Deep cultural marks signify both weaknesses created by past laws and lack of freedom, and the unity, spirituality and strength of spirit resulting from the experiences of Africans in America.

Families are affected. Socio-economics are affected. Each individual life - black or white - is affected...all by slavery.

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From slavery's entrenchment in Sussex County to the struggle to circumvent it throughout the state, Delaware's history of slavery and the Underground Railroad is just beginning to be explored. A look at the Riots of 1968, the August Quarterly, the Quaker faith and hundreds of notable black figures from Delaware must begin with an examination of what slavery was, what slavery continues to mean in this country and how it must be remembered.
mike castle
Remembrance received a considerable boost in May 2001 when Delaware Congressman Mike Castle announced a request for $250,000 in federal funds for the state's Underground Railroad Coalition. The Coalition, comprised of dedicated professionals from Delaware, has worked for many years to draw attention to the need for official recognition and preservation of the state's significant Underground Railroad sites. The Mayor of Wilmington, Jim Baker, and representatives of non-profit and corporate interests from Delaware attended the press conference.



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To Look at Slavery's Legacy, one must also Look to Achievements
Made by Black Americans in the Years Since the Civil War
August Quarterly
Peter Spencer was the father of the Independent Black Church Movement. His African Union Methodist Protestant Church, founded in September of 1813, was the first independent black church founded in the United States (Richard Allen's AME Church in Philadelphia began in 1793 as a local church, but did not separate from the Methodist Episcopal Church until 1816). Spencer's church is known today as the Mother African Union Methodist Protestant Church and is located on 9th and North Franklin Streets in Wilmington, Delaware.
Born a slave in Kent County, Maryland in 1782, Spencer was manumitted upon the death of his master and moved to Wilmington. A mechanic with some knowledge of the law, Spencer became known in his community as "Father Spencer" as his particular brand of legal advice, literacy, and religious fervor made him popular. He taught people to read and write and believed in the power of education and religion as a powerful combination.
After the founding of the church, Spencer also created the August Quarterly in 1814, a meeting held in Wilmington on the last Sunday of every August. The Quarterly provided the black communities from several surrounding states with a reunion and religious revival of sorts. Slaves and free laborers were given the day off to attend. Runaway slaves used the Quarterly as a starting point from which to escape and Spencer himself aided in the escapes of slaves along with Thomas Garrett, Wilmington's station master. Before his death, Peter Spencer founded 31 churches and several schools.
The Big Quarterly
Peter Spencer Plaza
Mother AUMP Church
The Big Quarterly, 1950s
Peter Spencer Plaza
Mother AUMP Church Today

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Judy Johnson
Judy Johnson (1900-1989)
Judy Johnson is known as Delaware's folk hero of the diamond. Born in 1900, Johnson moved to Wilmington at the age of five and displayed a talent for the game of baseball which led to his professional debut with the Negro Leagues in 1922. Although his playing days preceded the break of the color barrier by nine years, Johnson became the first black assistant coach for a major league team in 1954. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1975. Johnson Field at Wilmington's Frawley Stadium is named for him.
Judy Johnson

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Alice Dunbar-Nelson
Alice Dunbar-Nelson, one of our country's earliest feminist writers, poets and thinkers, was a teacher at Wilmington's Howard High School for 18 years. As head of the school's English Department, Dunbar-Nelson instituted a rigorous curriculum which included selections from the literary canon (mostly white male writers) as well as lesser known works by black writers. This blend of multi-culturalism and classical ideas defined her life and those of her well-rounded students.
Alice Dunbar-Nelson
Alice Dunbar-Nelson

Howard High School

Historic Howard High School
For more than a century this historic institution played a central role in educating the Black Community of Wilmington, Delaware. Founded in 1867 by the Society for the Improvement of Morals of the People of African Descent, the school was named for General Oliver Otis Howard, a national leader in the work of the Freedman's Bureau. Miss Edwina B. Kruse served as Principal between 1871 and 1922. Early faculty of note included Alice Dunbar Nelson. In Delaware and far beyond, Howard High School was synonymous with excellence in academic study, athletics and the arts.

In 1975, the Howard Comprehensive High School became the Howard Career Center. An expanded complex was constructed adjacent to the original structure. Today, this historic building houses special programs for a diverse student body. It is also home to two special collections of historic memorabilia showcasing the achievements of Wilmington's African American community throughout the 20th century.

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Louis L. Redding and Landmark Case
A graduate of Wilmington, Delaware's Howard High School, Redding was the first black person admitted to the Delaware Bar. He presented legal arguments which provided for the desegregation of schools in Claymont and Hockessin in 1952 and the Delaware case of Brown v. Board of Education before the United States Supreme Court in 1954. In 1950 he compiled a case against the University of Delaware, which barred black students, but the case so compelled the University's Chancellor that he decided to desegregate in order to avoid a trial. The University became the first federally funded institution to desegregate. Redding attended Brown University and Harvard Law school.

Louis Redding
Louis L. Redding

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Edward Loper Edward L. Loper, Sr.
One of Delaware's most accomplished artists, Loper has been called "The Prophet of Color". Born in 1916, Loper graduated from Howard High School and has forged a successful career as a painter.
 
Clifford Brown
Clifford Brown ("Brownie")
was born October 30, 1930. From the first time he played the trumpet at age 13 until his untimely death at age 26, Brown fascinated fellow jazzmen and audiences with his improvisational style and virtuosity. A world-famous Jazz Festival named for Brown takes place every summer in Wilmington's Rodney Square.
Edward L. Loper, Sr.
Clifford Brown

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Herman Holloway
Herman Holloway
Herman Holloway, Sr. is considered Delaware's pioneer black political leader. In 1963, Holloway was the first black person elected to Delaware's State Senate, and he dedicated his work to the civil rights cause.
Herman Holloway


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