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Delaware launches conversations about Black History

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Gov. John Carney's office
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Gov. John Carney at this month's Delaware Juneteenth Association Juneteenth Flag Raising ceremony at the Route 9 Library and Innovation Center.

Next week, the State of Delaware joins the Delaware Heritage Commission to launch a series of forums on Black history in the First State.

The first of these virtual events focuses on this month’s celebration of Juneteenth, as well as other topics. 

And one of the panelists - Dr. Reba Hollingsworth from the Heritage Commission – joins us to discuss the forums and teaching Black History.

The Delaware Forum on Racial History and Juneteenth is a virtual event that takes place on Wednesday.

It features Gov. John Carney, Dr. Donna Patterson, Chair, Delaware State University Department of History, Political Science, and Philosophy, Dr. Reba Hollingsworth with the Delaware Heritage Commission, and Sylvester Woolford also of the Delaware Heritage Commission.

It comes as many are newly exposed to aspects of Black History such as Juneteenth, and the state’s role in Brown v Board of Education including the significance of the Hockessin School #107C.

Hollingsworth says she’s not surprised that so many Delawareans are unaware of certain aspects of Black history.

"There's so much that people don't know because it was never taught as a part of the history of the United States," said Hollingsworth. "People are ignorant, and so if we don't know what we don't know a lot of times and there's an awful lot all that we really don't know, especially if we haven't tried to study it. And in my experience, white people for a long time only saw us as shadows and I've even been patted on my head and asked how I know so much and those kind of things."

The event is timely, not only because Juneteenth is Saturday, but because lawmakers recently approved a bill requiring more Black history be taught in Delaware schools.

Hollingsworth believes it’s a significant step forward.

"I think it's important and I think that there are a few of us still left who have personal experiences with the segregated education in the state of Delaware and not all of us received a broader experience," she said.

Hollingsworth is worried about resistance to the bill in some quarters, noting her experience has been that when progress is made in the Black community, it’s often followed by laws or action to stem the progress.

The virtual forum takes place Wednesday from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.on the state's website, as well as Gov. John Carney's Facebook page and  YouTube channel.

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