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Skip Navigation LinksDNREC : News : February’s First Saturday Highlights Delaware’s African American History


 
 
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Elaine Brenchley, First State Heritage Park, 302-739-9194, elaine.brenchley@state.de.us, or Necia Beck, Delaware State Parks, 302-739-9175, necia.beck@state.de.us.

February’s First Saturday Highlights Delaware’s African American History

DOVER (Jan 28, 2013) – On Saturday, Feb. 2, First Saturdays in the First State presented by First State Heritage Park, offers visitors a variety of programs, tours and exhibits highlighting Delaware’s African American history throughout the course of three centuries.

An historical theater presentation at the John Bell House tells the story of Bishop Richard Allen, a Delaware slave who became his own master during a period when African Americans, both free and enslaved, struggled to carry on. His story is told through an imaginary conversation between the 18th-century Methodist preacher Francis Asbury and a 21st-century African American teenager.

The strong connections between Methodism and the African American community in Delaware is featured at the Delaware Public Archives in a lecture about early Black Methodism and its preachers, as well as a new display about African American churches.

Visitors then move into the World War II era with a theatrical presentation by Dondel Productions at The Old State House portraying how radio broadcasts were used during the war to boost the spirits of African American service personnel.

In keeping with the month’s theme, the hourly walking tour of The Green focuses on stories of slavery and freedom throughout the history of Delaware’s capital city, and the guided tour, The Civil War: Five Delaware Soldiers’ Stories highlights the U.S. Colored Troops who served in that conflict. This will also be the last opportunity for visitors to see this exhibit, which closes Feb. 2. 

Also on First Saturday, visitors can celebrate Mardi Gras by listening to historic jazz recordings at the Johnson Victrola Museum, and the Biggs Museum of American Art features its monthly Biggs Kids program.  Other activities include tours of the two capitol buildings in Delaware’s capital city –The Old State House and Legislative Hall, as well as tours of the Governor’s residence at Woodburn and Hall House.

Admission to all park sites and programs is free. Centrally located free parking is available at the First State Heritage Park Welcome Center and Galleries, 121 Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard North (formerly Duke of York Street). More information about The First State Heritage Park programs is available at (302) 739-9194 or destateparks.com/heritagepark.

First Saturday Activities on Saturday, Feb. 2

10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Delaware’s USCTs
First State Heritage Park Welcome Center and Galleries, 121 Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard North (formerly Duke of York Street)

The guided tour of The Civil War: Five Delaware Soldiers’ Stories will focus on the U.S. Colored Troops that enlisted from Delaware.

10 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Tours of the Governor’s House
At Woodburn – The Governor’s House
Visitors will enjoy guided tours of Woodburn, the official residence of Delaware’s Governor since 1965, and Hall House, the Governor’s guest house.

10 a.m., Noon and 2 p.m.
Through a Minister’s Eyes: Richard Allen
John Bell House on The Green
During this special performance, visitors will learn about Bishop Richard Allen, a slave who transcended racial lines to inspire his people.

10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Tales of Slavery and Freedom
John Bell House on The Green
Delaware had complicated positions regarding freedom and slavery, and its role as a border state during the Civil War. Visitors will learn how the Dover Eight made a daring escape from the Dover Jail, and about famous African American Richard Allen and his connections to the Golden Fleece Tavern. 

10:30 a.m.
The History of Black Methodism in Delaware
Delaware Public Archives, 121 Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard North (formerly  Duke of York Street)

Syl Woolford presents the story of early black preachers who helped create many of today’s Methodist denominations. Slaves made up 25 percent of converts to early Methodism.

11 a.m. and 1 p.m.
Jubilee: Letters from the Front
The Old State House on The Green
This presentation by Dondel Productions is based on the real radio program created by the Armed Forces Radio Service to buoy the spirit of the African-American service personnel during World War II.   

2 – 3 p.m.
Biggs Kids – Vegetable Photograms
Biggs Museum of American Art, 406 Federal Street
Children ages 5 to 10 can create colorful photographic prints using crushed vegetables for dye. Reservations are required and can be made by calling 302-674-2111.  

Other Activities – 9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.:  

Guided Tours of Legislative Hall – Delaware’s Capitol
411 Legislative Avenue
Tours of the House and Senate Chambers include information about the legislature and Delaware history. Photo ID is required for all adults entering the building.  

Voices of the Underground Railroad
The Old State House on The Green
The state of Delaware had many supporters of the Underground Railroad. Stories of the unsung heroes of Delaware who aided in the freedom of enslaved people are highlighted in this program.

Mardi Gras and All That Jazz
Johnson Victrola Museum, 375 S. New Street Visitors will hear the sounds of New Orleans’ jazz on an authentic talking machine and learn about the contributions Victor Records made to this genre.

Exhibits:

The First State Heritage Park Welcome Center and Galleries
121 Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard North (formerly Duke of York Street)

The Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs presents two exhibits:

USS Delaware: An American Battleship. The story of the USS Delaware (1909-1924), told through objects, photographs, and ceremonial silver.

The Civil War: Five Delaware Soldiers’ Stories – closes Feb. 2
This exhibit recognizes the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the American Civil War. Through the state’s collection of objects, portraits, and documents, personal experiences of the War of the Rebellion are revealed.  

Biggs Museum of American Art, 406 Federal Street
Biggs Shot III: The Biggs’ third juried photography competition showcases artists living and working in the mid-Atlantic region. The exhibit offers visitors a view of regional talent and artistic perspectives in film, digital and video formats.

 Delaware Public Archives, 121 Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard North (formerly Duke of York Street)
African American Houses of Worship
Through mid-March. 
The First State Heritage Park at Dover is Delaware’s first urban “park without boundaries” linking historic and cultural sites in the city that has been the seat of state government since 1777.The park is a partnership of state agencies, under the leadership of Delaware State Parks, working in collaboration with city and county government, nonprofit organizations and the private sector. 

Vol. 43, No. 27

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