Discovering Delaware Black
1954 Milford Desegregation
English | 2022
Director: Michael Oates
Narrator: Michael Oates
Copyright: Berkana, 2022
English | 2021
Director: Michael Oates
Narrator: Rev. Dr. John G. Moore, Sr.
Copyright: Berkana, 2021
In May, 1954, the Supreme Court ruled 9-0 that segregation in public schools was unconstitutional. That August, the Milford, Delaware School Board voted to integrate Milford High School. This video documents the history of what happened that fall when the school admitted 11 Black students, known as the Milford Eleven.
In 1965, the first Black students graduated from Milford High School. They are known as the Milford Seven.
This project was produced by Berkana, Center for Media and Education, Inc. and 302 Stories, Inc. Funding has been provided from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and Delaware Humanities as part of the 2021 American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act, Berkana, Center for Media and Education, Inc. and 302 Stories, Inc.
We are pleased to share three additional stories of Delaware Black history.
African American history has long been ignored, untold, or at best under-represented in the history of the United States. African Americans first arrived in Delaware in 1639, and had been living here for generations. By 1861, some were slaves (1,798) and others free (19,829). As a border state during the Civil War (1861-1865), Delaware was as divided as the country.
With the War over, race relations changed, but not to the degree promised by the 13th Amendment. Delaware was no different, and was one of the cases (Gebhart v. Belton) combined with the Supreme Court's Brown v. Board of Education case in 1954.
Yet despite that decision, Delaware remained a segregated state that only slowly and reluctantly changed. This is evidenced by the slow integration of the state's public schools (e.g., Milford HS (1960) and Sussex Central HS (1967).
Today Delaware is integrated, and the stories of its recent transition have been well documented by academics and journalists. As such, there is a need to broaden the study of Delaware's recent black history by hearing from those who lived it—by capturing firsthand—the stories of Delaware’s African American residents who lived through this period of racial segregation.
This project was produced by Berkana, Center for Media and Education, Inc. and 302 Stories, Inc. The project was funded by the Delaware Heritage Commission and partially funded by a grant from the Delaware Humanities a state program of the National Endowment for the Humanities, Berkana, Center for Media and Education, and 302 Stories, Inc.