Preservation Delaware initiative documenting oral histories of African American schools

Delaware News Desk
Preservation Delaware Inc. announced The African American Schools in Delaware and Brown v. Board of Education project, which began in September.

Preservation Delaware Inc. announced The African American Schools in Delaware and Brown v. Board of Education project, which began in September. 

The project represents Phase 1 of a multi-year overall project being undertaken by the African American Cultural Resources Task Force under the aegis of Preservation Delaware Inc. 

Building on the work of a parallel project pursued by Michael J. Emmons Jr. and Catherine Morrissey, project leaders for the University of Delaware Center for Historic Architecture and Design, to survey all Dupont schools in Delaware, this project will begin the process of gathering oral histories related to some of the most prominent Black DuPont Schools. 

Abdullah R. Muhammad, project director, said the initiative requires an approach with a clear sense of urgency, due to the aging factor of the people to be interviewed, their potential memory loss, those who have relocated without forwarding addresses and other limiting factors. 

“It is imperative that we collect these personal histories before time robs us of this opportunity,” said PDI President Mike McGrath.

In conjunction with the collection of oral histories gathered from interviewees, the project will request photographic and/or written materials — journals, diaries, letters, posters, local newspaper articles and other ephemera — related to the respective schools and the lives of the people who attended these schools. This work will provide a vital linkage between the survey work documenting both existing school buildings in whatever condition, with the communities and the histories surrounding each of those schools. 

Overall, these twin efforts to document historic African American schools in Delaware will highlight the rich history of an oft-forgotten and overlooked part of Delaware’s past. The larger vision of the AATF is to fully acknowledge the role of African Americans in all aspects of Delaware’s pivotal history.

Funding for the activity was provided by the Historic Preservation Fund, administered by the National Park Service through the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs.

For more, visit preservationde.org.