African-American Heritage Center plan finalized in Wilmington

Wilmington’s African-American heritage will be celebrated with a new center to be opened by the Delaware History Center.

Mayor James Baker says the city has accepted a proposal from the DHS in the 500-block of Market Street to develop the African-American Heritage Center.  The decision comes about two months after the city began to seek formal proposals, which were reviewed by a committee of city employees.

The idea, however, has been around for more than 15 years.  Baker was City Council President in 1996, when he and former Councilwoman Stephanie T. Boulden first proposed a heritage center. 

“We have had enough debate, enough arguing and enough of a delay on this important project,” Baker said.  “It is past time that we move forward and establish a heritage center so that people of all ethnic backgrounds can learn more about Wilmington’s history and about the African Americans who were and are part of the fabric of our city.” 

The Delaware Historical Society plans a fundraising campaign to raise an additional $2.5-million for the center.  The DHS received $1-million several years ago through a city bond designated for the project. 

The African-American Heritage Center would open at the existing Delaware History Center at 504 Market Street and in the adjacent Old Town Hall. 

The competing proposal was put forth by the Afro-American Historical Society, which felt that the east side of Wilmington would be more appropriate for the center due to its concentration of African-American history and citizens.

Mayor Baker is a collector of African American historical materials and has donated many items to the Delaware Historical Society.  “I want the children and families of today and future generations to have a place where they can turn to learn about the wisdom, accomplishments, sacrifice and legacy of thousands of African-Americans who lived through both good and bad times in our city,” the Mayor added.

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