✜ Update News Online ✜ African-American Heritage Center Controversy



From our February 28th, 2012 Broadcast.
Update News is City of Wilmington’s source for local news and information.

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Mayor James Baker has announced that the city has accepted a proposal for the Delaware Historical Society to establish a heritage center for African-American history in downtown Wilmington. It is a decision that has been 15 years in the making, and it is not without it’s share of controversy. Speakers at a recent meeting of the Wilmington city council voiced their displeasure with the decision.

A center for presenting and preserving the culture and heritage of African-Americans was first proposed in 1996 by current state representative Stephanie T. Bolden, who was a member of the Wilmington City Council at the time. A building on the corner of 11th St. and Clifford Brown walk, which once house Allied Kidd Leather Company, was expected to be used to house the museum. The building was a donation by former credit card giant MBNA. In November of last year, the Afro-American historical Society of Delaware and the Delaware Historical Society submitted proposals for evaluation by a committee made up of city employees. Their recommendation was to accept the bid made by the Delaware Historical Society, and the Mayor approved the recommendation in January. The DHS will receive 1-million-dollars to open the heritage museum in the current Delaware History Center at 504 N. Market St. and in Old Town Hall which sits next door. The money comes from a bond created especially for this purpose and 2004. Before opening the center, the Delaware historical Society needs to raise an estimated additional 2-point-5-million-dollars to fund the project. While much of the dispute is focused on the whether the DHS, which has a predominantly white staff, can accurately convey the struggles and heritage of African-Americans, the Mayor is confident the two sides can come together to make a dream into reality, saying, “We have had enough debate, enough arguing and enough delay on this important project. 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.”

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Update News airs at 7am, 12 noon, and 10pm EVERYDAY on WITN Channel 22 in the City of Wilmington Delaware. ✜ Update News ✜ Paul Colsey [Producer/Director] Paul Kennard [Anchor/Producer]

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