Cape Gazette
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Sussex Progressive Community holds forum on Human and Civil Rights in Southern Delaware - Past and Present

Feb 18, 2014
Source: Submitted Panel members at the Sussex Progressive Community Forum on Human and Civil Rights in Southern Delaware - Past and Present are (l t-r) Robin Krawitz, director of the Historic Preservation Graduate Program at Delaware State University and current President of the Underground Railroad Coalition of Delaware; Jim Blackwell, Seaford Historical Society; Orlando J. Camp, author of “The Milford Eleven;” and Sharon Kanter, former superintendent of Milford School District.

More than 100 guests learned some local history at the February dinner meeting of the Sussex Progressive Community from those who have researched it and those who have lived it.

Jim Blackwell, local historian, recounted the love story of Tilly, who, thanks to the bravery and resourcefulness of Harriet Tubman, escaped slavery and was reunited with her fiancé. Blackwell’s extensive research to verifyTubman’s link to Delaware resulted in Seaford’s designation as a National Park Service’s National Underground Railroad site. Blackwell also told of current efforts to erect a monument in Seaford’s riverwalk to honor Tubman.

Orlando Camp described the confusion, fear and disappointment that he and 10 other African-American students experienced in the fall of 1954 when they tried to attend previously all-white Milford High School following the Supreme Court ruling earlier that year that segregated schools were unconstitutional.

Camp remembers meeting with Louis Redding, Delaware’s only African-America attorney at the time. Despite Redding’s efforts, Camp and the other students were forced to leave Milford High School at the end of September. Camp told the group that it “wasn’t about integration for him or his family. It was about education.”

Sharon Kanter, former regional superintendent of Baltimore School District, talked about coming to Milford, learning about the "Milford Eleven" and working with the school board to award them honorary diplomas at the 2012 graduation ceremony. Kanter also described how she designated Race to the Top funding to bring about change at Milford High School.

Robin Krawitz, president of the Underground Railroad Coalition, fielded questions from the guests about the historical sites in Sussex County. She encouraged those who want to learn more about the Underground Railroad in Delaware to email UGRRDelaware@gmail.com

For more information on the Sussex Progressive Community email sussexprogressives@gmail.com.

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