Delaware museums marking African-American History Month starting Feb. 1

Cape Region history topic of lectures Feb. 1 and 15
December 23, 2013

The Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs offers a month full of special programs in February. Featured among the 18 special events are 11 which commemorate African-American History Month and highlight contributions the black community has made to the culture and history of the United States and Delaware. All programs are free and open to the public. For more information, call 302-744-5055.

The month begins with an array of special programs slated for Saturday, Feb. 1, many in conjunction with First Saturday in the First State events in Dover.

Ready to Fight for Freedom: James H. Elbert” is a living-history performance in which Willis Phelps portrays Pvt. James H. Elbert, C Company, 8th United States Colored Troops, who fought in the American Civil War. Audience members are encouraged to ask questions and talk with Elbert, who will remain in character throughout his appearance. The program will take place at 1 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 1, at The Old State House, 25 The Green in Dover.

At 2 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 1, Tamara Jubilee-Shaw will present “Remembering Rosedale Beach,” the story of a popular waterfront resort near Millsboro run by and for people of color that featured noted performers Louis Armstrong, Lionel Hampton, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, James Brown and Aretha Franklin, among many others. The presentation takes place at Johnson Victrola Museum, 375 S. New St., Dover. The museum is open 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Other Feb. 1 events include guided tours of the exhibit, An Illegal Activity: The Underground Railroad in Delaware, which will explore Delaware’s crucial role in the Underground Railroad and two Delaware leaders who aided in this freedom enterprise.  Tours are at 10 a.m., noon and 2 p.m. at the First State Heritage Park Welcome Center and Galleries, Delaware Public Archives Building, 121 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. in Dover. Museum is open 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Each Saturday during the month, the John Dickinson Plantation, 340 Kitts Hummock Road in Dover, will be offering special tours exploring the lives of African-Americans who lived in slavery and servitude at the home of John Dickinson, one of the founding fathers of the United States and so-called Penman of the Revolution.  A World Apart tours begin Saturday, Feb. 1. Call 302-739-3277 for more information.

At 2 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 2, Sylvester Woolford of Newark will present “The Dover Eight: A Story of the Underground Railroad” at The Old State House, 25 The Green, Dover. Museum is open 1:30 to 4:30 p.m.

At 1 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 8 Kamau Ngom highlights the similarities between traditional African culture and African-influenced culture in the Americas in “From Africa to the Americas via Music, Song, Dance and Stories.” Audience participation is a must in this village-oriented presentation at The Old State House. Museum is open 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

John Dickinson’s 206th Remembrance Day comes Saturday, Feb. 14, at the John Dickinson Plantation. The program commemorates the death of John Dickinson and explores 18th century mourning practices including a letter written in Dickinson’s memory by President Thomas Jefferson. A wreath laying comes at noon. Program runs 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Museum is open 10 a.m.-3:30 p.m.

The Second Annual Samuel D. Burris Workshop will be held from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 15. The program explores the latest findings on Delaware’s Underground Railroad conductor Samuel D. Burris. Activities begin at The Old State House and conclude at the First State Heritage Park Welcome Center and Galleries.

The Zwaanendael Museum will host Tom Brown of The Lewes Historical Society as he presents “Delaware’s Decades - the 1950s: Menhaden Industry in Lewes” at 2 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 15. Zwaanendael Museum ,102 Kings Highway, Lewes, will be open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Call 302-645-1148 for information.

“The Remarkable Solomon and Thamar Bayley,” a lecture by Dr. Peter Dalleo on the true early 19th century story of Solomon Bayley and his wife Thamar during their journey from enslavement to freedom on the Delmarva Peninsula and in Africa, comes at 1 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 22, at The Old State House.

The Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs is an agency of the state of Delaware. Go to for more information on all February events.


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