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Sarah Zimmerman or Elaine Brenchley, First State Heritage Park, 302-739-9194
Photos available upon request 

Heritage Park’s First Saturday celebrates
African-American History Month

DOVER (Jan. 31, 2014) – On Saturday, Feb. 1, The First State Heritage Park kicks off its celebration of African-American history month with a variety of programs for the First Saturday in the First State. To continue the theme of civil rights from January, the park will feature programs from both the near and distant past, all focusing on the African-American experience in Delaware.

At the John Bell House, local artist Nina Spencer will be teaching a tile-painting workshop at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Spencer has created a series of Underground Railroad art on tiles which are featured at the Blue Ball Barn in Wilmington. The class is open to all skill levels and each participant will be able to take home a tile they have created. Space is limited and pre-registration is required. Registration is $25 per person and will cover the cost of the materials and instructor fees. The themes of Folk Art will also be explored by the Biggs Kids program at the Biggs Museum of American art from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The First State Heritage Park Welcome Center and Galleries will feature guided tours of the latest exhibit, An Illegal Activity: The Underground Railroad in Delaware which examines the important role Delaware played in the Underground Railroad. Walking tours of The Green begin hourly at the John Bell House and focus on Tales of Slavery and Freedom. 

Mr. Willis Phelps will present a first-person interpretation of Civil War Private James H. Elbert, C Company, 8th United States Colored Troops at 1 p.m. at the Old State House on The Green to tell a soldier’s story of an African-American solider ready to fight for the freedoms he, himself, was denied. 

Taking a look at more modern history, the Johnson Victrola Museum presents Remembering Rosedale Beach at 2 p.m. which explores the history of a popular waterfront in Sussex County run by, and for, people of color including performers such as Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Aretha Franklin and James Brown. To commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education decision in 1954, the Delaware Public Archives features The Milford Desegregation Crisis of 1954: One Student’s Perspective presented by Orlando Camp, one of the “Milford Eleven” who tried to integrate the school.

Each month during First Saturdays in the First State, the First State Heritage Park offers a variety of free programs at each of the park’s partner sites, including tours The Old State House and Legislative Hall, hourly walking tours leaving from the John Bell House and the monthly “Biggs Kids” program at the Biggs Museum of American Art. Exhibits are also on display at the Delaware Public Archives, the Johnson Victrola Museum, the First State Heritage Park Welcome Center and Galleries and the Biggs Museum. The park’s newest First Saturday tour, which is offered from 1:30 – 4 p.m., is of the recently restored 19th-century courtroom in the historic Kent County Courthouse on The Green.

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 First Saturday events and all First State Heritage Park programs is available at 302-739-9194 or

The First State Heritage Park 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. 44, No.28

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