At the American Civil Liberties Union of Delaware we work hard to defend the Constitution of the United States and the freedoms it grants those who live here; however, our Constitution was far from perfect at its inception. The founding document of this nation was inherently narrow-minded from the start, without protections of civil rights and civil liberties for all Americans. 

2020 marks 150 years since the ratification of the 15th amendment, which, after the abolition of slavery with the 13th Amendment and the granting of citizenship to Black citizens under the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection clause, gave black men the constitutional right to vote. Yet, in those 150 years the nation has had to ensure African Americans enjoy equal treatment and opportunity, prejudice and injustice have proven difficult to dislodge. With more than half a century between today’s America and the Civil Rights Movement - which was itself a century after the Civil War - systemic racism in the form of corrupted institutions, biased policies, and discriminatory governing mindsets constitute a New Jim Crow. Black Americans still have starkly different realities than white Americans.

Every day, but especially during Black History Month, we encourage you to learn about and reflect on how far Black Americans have come in their fight to secure a “seat at the table” in every-day America. It's just as important, however, to keep in mind how far this country has yet to go before those "seats at the tables" are equitable and just.


We look to the fight and the pioneers of the past to inspire our efforts toward a more equitable future. To that end, we have assembled a list of state-wide events celebrating Black History this month, and we encourage you to attend as many as you can. Click on the title of each event for more information!

This is by no means a comprehensive list. We'd love to represent as many Black History Month events here as possible! If your black history month event is not listed here and you would like it to be, please email Morgan Keller, our Communications Manager, at mkeller@aclu-de.org.

  • February 7 - March 29: Lessons: an Exhibition by Billy Colbert 

    • When & Where: Museum Hours Online; Biggs Museum of American Art, Dover

    • Black History Celebration Reception: February 19th, 5pm-7pm

    • The Biggs Museum presents art installations by DSU Prof. Billy Colbert exploring “African American Education Under Segregation” with video, photographs, and “artifacts from the separate and unequal educational system on loan from the African American community of Kent County.” Prof. Colbert and museum staff “will collect oral histories on this topic during the exhibition to create an original documentary sharing memories of local segregated schools.”

  • February 13: 2nd Annual BHM Jubilee

    • When & Where: 6:00 - 8:30pm at the Rt. 9 Library & Innovation Center, New Castle

    • A BHM celebration that will include live performances, catered food, and an escape room and other activities.
       

  • February 13-April 3: “Patented Ingenuity: African American Innovators” 

    • When & Where: Open during Library Hours in Morris Library’s Information Room; University of Delaware, Newark
    • A UD library showcase about African American inventors and their impact on technological advancements in American society.
       
  • February 15: “The African American Experience in Delaware” 

    • When & Where: 1:00 - 5:00pm at The Old State House, Dover
    • Historic-site interpreter Dennis Fisher explores Delaware’s rich African American culture, history, and legacy from the 18th to the 20th century.
       
  • February 15: “African Americans on the Eastern Shore”

    • When & Where: 2:00pm at the Lewes Public Library, Lewes; Reservations required by February 14
    • Lecture by Jim Blackwell of the Seaford Museum exploring Eastern Shore history, slavery, the Ross family and Harriet Tubman
       
  • February 22: “The Women’s Suffrage Movement: Below the Color-Line.” 

    • When & Where: 1:00pm at the Old State House, Dover
    • Hosted at the Old State House, this event will have historian Syl Woolford explaining the role of black women in winning women’s suffrage. Program starts at 1pm
       
  • February 22: Health Panel discussion with Black Nurses Rock 

    • When & Where: 2:00 - 4:00pm at the First State Community Action Agency in Georgetown
    • Hosted by Southern Delaware Alliance for Racial Justice and Sponsored by Delta Sigma Theta Sorority and Black Nurses Association
    • For more information, email the Southern Delaware Alliance for Racial Justice at info@sdarj.org.
       
  • February 24: African American Read-In

    • When & Where: 4:30 - 6:00pm in Morris Library’s Class of 1941 Lecture Room, University of Delaware, Newark
    • An opportunity to read your favorite African American authors or share your own work. Guests of honor Celeste Doaks and Gieltta “Gigi” McGraw will be in attendance. Doaks is author of poetry collection Not Without our Laughter and McGraw is author of G-MA: Stories and Photos of Black Grandmothers.
       
  • February 24: 34th Annual Women’s History Month Film Series - Chisholm ‘72: Unbought and Unbossed 

    • When & Where: 7:00 - 10:00pm in 004 Kirkbride Hall, University of Delaware, Newark
    • University of Delaware will hold a free screening of “a movie about Shirely Chisholm, the first American congresswoman and the first black woman to seek a major party’s nomination for the U.S. presidency.” Cheryl Hicks from UD’s School of Africana Studies will present after the screening. 
       
  • February 26: Walk On: Rosa Parks

    • When & Where: Showings at 9:30am and 12:00pm at the Grand Opera House, Wilmington
    • The Grand Opera House presents the story of Rosa Parks, “from childhood in rural Alabama to her famous decision to ‘sit down and be counted,’” told through music and drama. Great for Elementary-Middle School students.
       
  • February 26: Black Delaware Participation in the Civil War

    • When & Where: 6:30pm at the Woodlawn library; Wilmington
    • A first-person portrayal of William Owen, a free black man from Milford, Delaware. Owen tells the story of hearing Frederick Douglass speak and deciding to become part of the 54th Massachusetts, the renowned first black regiment to fight in the Civil War. From the Delaware Humanities.
       
  • February 27: A Conversation with Common

    • When & Where: 6:30pm at the Trabant University Center, Multipurpose Room, University of Delaware, Newark
    • Artist/actor/activist Common will discuss his social justice work, and how his concept of love has developed over time through his experiences and relationships, as described in his latest book, Let Love Have the Last Word. Universirty of Delaware will host the event as part of its “Black History Month Extravaganza.”
    • Tickets on sale to the general public starting Tues. Feb. 18 (space permitting)
       
  • February 29: CHEER Celebration of Black History Culture

    • When & Where: 10:00am - 2:00pm at the Warren L. and Charles C. Allen CHEER Community Center
    • This free event will feature speakers and “displays from local organizations” exploring and recognizing the importance of black history.
       
  • The Path to Freedom: A History of the Underground Railroad in Delaware

    • When & Where: Year-Round; Hours Listed Online; New Castle County Courthouse Museum, New Castle
    • An exhibit at the New Castle Court House Museum describing the activity of the Underground Railroad in the first state, exploring some of the challenges faced by Black Delawareans after the Civil War, and showcasing Delaware trailblazers who helped break racial and gender barriers.
       
  • Jane and Littleton Mitchell Center for African American Heritage

    • When & Where: Year-Round; Open Wed-Sun 12:00 - 5:00pm; Delaware Historical Society Museum, Wilmington
    • New Directions in African American History Series: The Delaware Historical Society’s Mitchell Center is devoted to recording and “present[ing] for public enrichment the history and heritage of Delaware’s African Americans.” Its new speaker series for 2020, New Directions in African American History, “highlights new research in African American history and the diaspora that reveals the connections of the Black experience in the U.S. and the world.” Dr. Shantee Rosado’s kicked off the series with a presentation on “Black Latinas’ Voice in U.S. Politics” on February 10. The next New Directions event will be on April 21 at 6pm, when Dr. Jesse Erickson gives a talk on the life of prominent black activist and educator Alice Dunbar-Nelson.

    • The Center’s other prominent features include:  

      • Journey to Freedom, an exhibition that splits Black Delawarean history into ten thematic sections starting from the arrival of the first enslaved African in Delaware in 1639.
      • Voices of the Elders, an oral history/interview series with “six prominent African American community leaders in Delaware”

      • The McGowan Collection, “a collection of papers from prominent Delaware psychologist and civil rights activist Dr. Eugene McGowan” who “facilitated groundbreaking research on the inadequacy of standardized testing in measuring the intellectual capabilities of African American children.”

      • Collecting Wilmington, an upcoming exhibition of “Delawareana” holding many objects from the lives of black Wilmingtonians. It will explore, among other topics, the continuation of Jim Crow imagery in advertising and the role of gospel and secular music in the African American community.

    • Mitchell Center during BHM: http://dehistory.org/bhm-mitchell-center-for-african-american-heritage
    • Mitchell Center Overview: http://dehistory.org/our-sites/8-home-page/visit-us/our-sites/181-center-for-african-american-heritage

    • DE Historical Society Events: http://dehistory.org/calendar-main

Stay informed

ACLU of Delaware is part of a network of affiliates

Learn more about ACLU National