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This Month in Delaware History

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On August 19, 1954, The Delaware State Board of Education issued a directive to all school districts in Delaware to take immediate practical steps toward eliminating racial segregation in Delaware schools at the beginning of the academic year, (a few weeks away in September).  Written plans for how to successfully implement school desegregation were due to the Delaware State Board of Education by October 1st, 1954. Earlier that year, in May, the landmark U.S. Supreme Court Case “Brown vs. the Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas” had been settled. The Supreme Court unanimously declared state laws establishing separate public schools based on race to be unconstitutional.  One of  five cases combined into the “Brown vs. the Board of Education” ruling was a Delaware court case: “Gebhart vs. Belton”, itself an amalgam of two individual cases. “Gebhart” was filed in 1951 in the Delaware Court of Chancery by lawyers Jack Greenberg and Louis L. Redding. It was brought by Ethel Louise Belton and six other parents of eight African-American high-school students who lived in Claymont, Delaware. Despite being close to spacious Claymont High School, the policy of segregation forced the parents to send their children on a public bus to attend Delaware’s only college preparatory school for African Americans, Howard High School, in the neighboring city of Wilmington.  Read more.

Merle F. Anderson  Spencer Robinson  


Object of the Month

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Boy Scout uniform_John S Reese IV

In this important anniversary year of the United States’ entry into World War I (and in keeping with the theme of the previous two months), this month’s special object offers us a small glimpse into the lives of the folks on the front lines here at home.  This Boy Scout uniform jacket belonged to John S. Reese IV (1904-2002) of Wilmington, who was a Boy Scout from 1916 until 1921. The son of distinguished Dupont chemist, Charles Lee Reese, and Harriet Stedman Bent Reese, John lived on Brinckle Avenue in Wilmington and was a member of Troop 12, which was headquartered at Trinity Episcopal Church on North Adams Street. Most of the scouts in this troop, like John, attended the Wilmington Friends School at Fourth and West Streets. Read more.





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