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First State Heritage Park offers 'Hidden Lives' tour for Black History Month

Mikaylee Preuss
Delaware Public Media

Delaware Public Media works with aspiring high school journalists across the state through our youth media program Generation Voice.

Over the coming weeks, we are featuring work produced by Polytech High School students Mikaylee Preuss and Kenny Guy, including this piece on The First State Heritage Park's 'Hidden Lives' tour.

There are several African Americans hidden in history, who made influential discoveries and shaped society. First State Heritage Park is using its Hidden Lives walking tour to recognize those unfamiliar names are and their accomplishments.

Interpretive Programs Manager Ryan Schwartz describes the main goals of the free walking tours.

“Hidden Lives, Slavery, Freedom in the Green is a part of First State Heritage Park's goal of telling stories of common people. Essentially, we have a pretty large mandate, which is to tell as many of those stories as we can,” said Schwartz. And this particular program is a focused effort on our part to expand our knowledge and expand the stories that we tell about black Delawareans living in this city.

The tour covers 300 years of history in the Dover community through different documents, newspapers and journals.

“This tour is literally going to take individuals around Dover's most historic neighborhood, the historic Dover Green, which has been around since the founding of the town. And is going to go through and it's going to take some of these highlight stories that we have pulled from these archives and these newspapers, and we're going to try and give an image or a glimpse into the lives that these people lived,” said Schwartz.

These influential figures will be represented through the different buildings on The Green – such as the old Kent County Courthouse and Golden Fleece Tavern where the Constitution was ratified – as well as a building that no longer there.

“We’ll be stopping by what is now a vacant lot, but back in the 1800’s was the sight of the Dover Jail, which was the sight of a daring bid for freedom by a group of African American Freedom Seekers in 1857 known as the Dover 8 with is the highlight story of the tour,” said Schwartz.

Schwartz calls the tour a great way to dive into history in ouro wn backyard.

“What is history after all but looking to the past, and learning from it. These stories deserve to be told, their experiences deserve to be remembered their triumphs deserve to be celebrated, and their struggles deserve to be commemorated.”

Tours are scheduled this week on Thursday, February 17th and Friday, February 18th at 10:00 a.m., leaving from the John Bell House on the 43 The Green.

For more information about the tours, visit the Delaware State Parks website.