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Education

Abandoned Brown v. Board school to reopen next year as a center for diversity and inclusion

Hockessin Colored School #107 in 1920.jpg
Friends of Hockessin School #107
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Hockessin Colored School #107 in 1920

A historic Hockessin school that helped end segregation will soon have a new life.

Hockessin Colored School #107 was built in 1920 and played a major role in the 1954 U.S. Supreme Court ruling, Brown v. Board of Education, which desegregated schools nationwide.

Now, a group that includes school alumni is transforming the building into a museum and Center for Diversity, Inclusion and Social Equity - with work to begin next month.

School Exterior
Friends of Colored School #107
School Exterior once renovations are complete

Temple University assistant professor David Wilk is the board chair for Friends of Hockessin Colored School #107.

“It started out as saving the school from a sheriff's sale in 2012," Wilk said. "And then working with the former Hockessin Community Center to amicably transfer the title and the property to our nonprofit group so we could inspire future generations by telling about the history of what happened here.”

Wilk says they settled on developing a diversity training center on the site in 2019, with a focus on community building and teaching inclusive economic development methods.

Garden and Event Space at School
Friends of Hockessin Colored School #107
Garden and Event Space at School

“The kind of thematic part of what we're going to do at the school, which is really exciting, is that we’re really going to be teaching people how to be more culturally competent; and to be able to sit around where all of this amazing history happened and actually have community conversations around contemporary social issues," said Wilk. "So that’s really the meat on the bone so to speak.”

The Friends of Hockessin Colored School #107 hope to break ground on the multi-million-dollar project in early December once it has the necessary permits from New Castle County.

If they get started in early December, the new center could be up and running by next spring.

The cost to renovate the building and open the center is an estimated $1.5 million to $2 million . The state chipped in $1 million and additional money is still coming from supporting foundations.

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