Court of Chancery historical art contest entries due April 15

February 13, 2024

The Delaware Court of Chancery announced its second annual legal history art contest for Delaware students in seventh to 12th grades to mark the 70th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education ruling, which will occur this May.

The chancery court played a key role in desegregating Delaware public schools before the Brown case. 

Before the Brown ruling, the Delaware Court of Chancery desegregated Delaware public schools in the cases known as Belton v. Gebhart and Bulah v. Gebhart, which were later incorporated into Brown v. Board of Education. The Delaware ruling was the only one of the state cases included in the consolidated Brown case where the plaintiffs prevailed in their challenge to segregation.

The contest invites students to submit works representing these historic cases and their impact, aiming to educate younger generations on their significance.

Entries may include people or places that were featured in the decision including litigants, judges, lawyers, or locations such as the schools or towns. Students can submit their art digitally by email. All submissions must be original artwork by the student, and mail submissions must include the student’s full name, email, phone number, grade, title of artwork (optional) and how the artwork addresses the theme.

All submissions must be received by Monday, April 15.

Contest winners will receive $500 for first place, $300 for second place and $200 for third place. In addition, the winning students and their families will be invited to attend a reception and awards ceremony Monday, April 22, at the Leonard L. Williams Justice Center in Wilmington.

Early submissions are encouraged. For more information and the submission form, go to

Amidst the backdrop of segregated Wilmington in the early 1950s, African American parents challenged state-enforced segregation by fighting to have their children be able to attend their local all-white public schools. In Belton v. Gebhart, high school student Ethel Louise Belton was forced to travel two hours daily to a school with inferior and unequal academic offerings. In Bulah v. Gebhart, Shirley Bulah was not allowed to ride the bus that passed by her house with the white children every day and was prevented from attending her local public school due to her race. Both Belton and Bulah were represented by Louis L. Redding, Esq., Delaware’s first African American attorney.

On April 1, 1952, Chancellor Collins J. Seitz of the Delaware Court of Chancery (father of current Delaware Supreme Court Chief Justice Collins J. Seitz Jr.) delivered his opinion in the action, consolidating Belton and Bulah, and concluding that segregation caused African American children, as a class, to receive “educational opportunities which are substantially inferior to those available to white children otherwise similarly situated.” Seitz also noted, “The application of Constitutional principles is often distasteful to some citizens, but that is one reason for Constitutional guarantees. The principles override transitory passions.”

Two weeks later, he ordered the desegregation of the two schools at issue in the case, Claymont High School and Hockessin School No. 29. Belton and Bulah were later part of the consolidated litigation leading to the 1954 decision in Brown v. Board of Education where the United States Supreme Court declared the “separate but equal” doctrine unconstitutional.


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