New documentary traces history of Delaware State University

A partnership between the Delaware Humanities Forum and the Welfare Foundation is bringing the history of Delaware State University to life in the documentary, “A Legacy of Opportunity.”  In the film, alumni and others close to the school talk about the transformation of the state’s only Historically Black University, its challenges, and where it’s headed next.

“Without Delaware State, I would not be who I am,” said Reba Hollingsworth, who remembers everything about her time at Delaware State University.

Hollingsworth and 99-year-old Susan Browne watched a private screening of the film, which detailed how the university blossomed into the school it is today.

“Blacks did not have any advantages and I came up all through segregation. … I know what that’s like. But it’s just wonderful that the college has grown like it has and I’m real proud of it,” Browne said.

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Outgoing DSU President Harry Williams, also featured in the documentary, is one of 10 presidents who played a key role in the development of DSU. Under Williams’ administration, which began in 2010, enrollment increased by a record 22 percent. Williams will depart this month to become president and chief executive of the Thurgood Marshall Fund.

“I’m really pleased with the quality of the students in terms of the type of student that’s enrolling at Delaware State. We’ve seen an increase in not only numbers, but we’ve seen an increase in the quality of the students as it relates to SATs and GPA, and that’s been pretty exciting watching that because that correlates with improvement in our retention area and improvement in our graduation numbers,” said Williams.

DSU was founded in 1891 with a handful of students in one building. For Gregory Showell, that’s just hard to believe.  After getting a glimpse of the 52-minute film, Showell, who also is featured in the documentary, could only describe it with three words: “Loved it. Beautiful.”

“A Legacy of Opportunity” will premiere next month on DSU’s campus for a black history program.

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