Delaware Day video explores the lives of enslaved people, abolitionist

Delaware News Desk
Photo of the 1797 manumission document in which James Summers freed his own children from slavery.

In celebration of Delaware Day, the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs has released “Delaware Day 2020 — Expanding the Delaware Story,” a five-part video that explores the experiences of four enslaved individuals and one abolitionist who lived during Delaware’s colonial and early-statehood time periods. 

Access to the video is free at history.delaware.gov/delaware-day-2020.

Produced by the division in collaboration with the Government Information Center, the video features community members and employees from the division telling the real-life stories of Delawareans whose lives are invaluable in understanding the state’s complex history. The five segments of the video were originally published in serialization with a new segment appearing daily on the division’s website Dec. 2-6. During that time period, the videos garnered more than 2,400 views resulting in more than 680 engagements across the division’s social media channels.

Delaware Day honors the anniversary of Delaware becoming the first state to ratify the U.S. Constitution on Dec. 7, 1787. Traditionally, the day’s activities focused on the five Delaware signers of the Constitution — Richard Bassett, Gunning Bedford Jr., Jacob Broom, John Dickinson and George Read. As members of the group of men who founded the U.S., their lives and accomplishments have been celebrated and well documented in the historical record.

In 2020, however, the division sought to expand the Delaware Day narrative by spotlighting the lives of five other people who contributed to Delaware’s early history and whose stories also deserve to be told and preserved — Dinah, James Summers, Bishop Richard Allen, Warner Mifflin and an unnamed Black man who was one of the first people of African origin to live in Delaware.

In creating “Delaware Day 2020 — Expanding the Delaware Story” division Director Tim Slavin said “we are striving to practice inclusive history and will not shrink from, or ignore the pain of, our shared heritage. We are committed to both preserving and interpreting Delaware’s difficult history.”

For more on “Delaware Day 2020” and the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs, visit history.delaware.gov.