Wilmington 1968: New Website Empowers Community Reflection

WILMINGTON, DE (January 16, 2018) — Twenty area organizations collaborated to launch the Wilmington 1968 website, a tool for community reflection. Via  www.wilmington1968.org, Delawareans can access community resources that teach about the local Civil Rights Movement through words and pictures, and address present-day racial and social justice issues. Additionally, the community can share memories of their own to contribute to cross-generational conversations about this historic event. These oral histories will be archived for future generations. The Wilmington 1968 website will also serve as a hub for information about related exhibitions, performances, events, and forums. It will be available to the community through January 2019.

Following the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Wilmington high school students converged on Rodney Square. Subsequent to these protests, looting and fires prompted a request for the National Guard to restore peace. Although other American cities experienced the same level of uprising after April 4, 1968, Wilmington, Delaware experienced the longest peace-time occupation in modern times. Wilmington remained under martial law for nine and a half months. This extensive patrol of Wilmington by the National Guard drastically changed the city from the inside out. Residents went about their days and nights watched, restricted, angry, and fearful. Numerous businesses along Market Street closed.

If it is true that we are destined to repeat the lessons we haven’t learned, today’s youth are adamant that we will not get left back. Youth-led movements such as #NeverAgain-nationwide protests stemming from the latest school shootings-are taking center stage in our social consciousness and awaking a new generation of activists. In 2017, Simone Austin (2017 Alfred Appel, Jr. Curatorial Fellow with the Delaware Art Museum; current graduate student, University of Delaware, History Department), was instrumental in bringing this shared history to the forefront as the primary contemporary researcher on these events for the Delaware Art Museum’s summer exhibition series. The community-wide reflection beginning this spring will bring “both answers and questions,” says Austin. “People of my generation and those who are not from Wilmington will start to understand what happened, why Wilmington looks the way it does today, and why people have certain perceptions of the City of Wilmington and of Delaware. I also think in terms of questions because the work that I’ve done is not the end. There are so many stories that just aren’t found in traditional sources and I’m hoping that more people will come forward and share their experiences.”

The Wilmington 1968 partners see the upcoming events, performances, and forums as ways to constructively process the physical and emotional toll on our city stemming the uprising and its aftermath. Our community needs to know that we, representatives of the arts & culture community, are not oblivious and unaffected by this quest for healing, and support all Wilmingtonians as they contribute to these necessary cross-generational conversations about race and reconciliation.

Drawing inspiration from the protest art of the 1960s, Squatch Creative, the design firm that created the Wilmington 1968 website, blends technology and art to empower activism. Marcus Price, the site designer, shared “While creating the aesthetic for the Wilmington 1968 remembrance, I wanted to do justice to the people who lived through this experience. It’s different than creating a website for a product or a brand. It was an entire movement and people. I wanted to be sure that I honored that and the spirit involved.” Squatch Creative has designed websites and merchandise for comedians Amy Schumer and Hannibal Buress, as well as local fixture, The Stone Balloon Ale House in Newark, DE.

The following individuals are available for interview:

  • Marcus Price, Squatch Creative – Web designer: art and technology as tools for activism.
  • Simone Austin, 2017 Alfred Appel, Jr. Curatorial Fellow, Delaware Art Museum – Primary researcher Wilmington 1968.
  • Chandra Pitts, One Village Alliance – Youth-led movements. Her father, Godfrey Pitts, was also the first Black photographer at the News Journal.
  • Saralyn Rosenfield, Delaware Art Museum – Community programming and events

For more information about Wilmington 1968 website and to schedule interviews, contact Ti Hall at 302.351.8558.

Partner Organizations

  1. 302 Guns Down
  2. Christina Cultural Arts Center
  3. Delaware Art Museum
  4. Delaware Division of the Arts
  5. Delaware Historical Society
  6. Delaware Humanities Forum
  7. Delaware Scene
  8. Episcopal Church of Saints Andrew and Matthew
  9. Guerilla Republik
  10. MLK Day Contest
  11. Mother African Union church
  12. Network Delaware
  13. One Village Alliance
  14. Quaker Hill Historic Preservation Foundation
  15. Squatch Creative
  16. The Delaware Contemporary
  17. The Grand Opera House
  18. University of Delaware Interdisciplinary Humanities Research Center
  19. University of Delaware Partnership for Arts and Culture
  20. YWCA Delaware

About the Delaware Art Museum

Founded in 1912, the Delaware Art Museum is recognized for its cornerstone collection of works by celebrated American artist and illustrator Howard Pyle, a Wilmington native, complimented by hundreds of works by some of most talented illustrators.

Also renowned for British Pre-Raphaelite art, the Museum is home to the largest and most significant Pre-Raphaelite collection outside of the United Kingdom, assembled by Samuel Bancroft, Jr., a Wilmington textile mill owner with a taste for Dante Gabriel Rossetti and other contemporaries of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.

The Museum is famous for the preeminent collection of urban landscapes by American painter John Sloan and his circle. The Sloan collection lives alongside an esteemed survey of American art-spanning more than 200 years-from early 19th century through the present, including masterworks by Raphaelle Peale, Frederic Church, Thomas Eakins, Edward Hopper, Robert Motherwell, and Dale Chihuly. Visitors also enjoy the outdoor Copeland Sculpture Garden, featuring large-scale works by Tom Otterness and George Rickey.

For more than 100 years, the Museum has occupied a vibrant place in the life of the Brandywine Valley. More than a collection of beautiful objects, the Museum is a vital source of experiences and discoveries for visitors from around the world.

The Delaware Art Museum is at 2301 Kentmere Parkway, Wilmington, DE 19806. Wednesday: 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., Thursday: 10:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m., and Friday – Sunday: 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Monday and Tuesday: Closed. Adults (19-59) $12, Seniors (60+) $10, Students (with valid ID) $6, Youth (7-18) $6, and Children (6 and under) free. Admission fees are waived Thursdays 4:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. and Sundays 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. thanks to support from generous individuals. For more information, call 302-571-9590 or 866-232-3714 (toll free), or visit delart.org.

Twitter: @delartmuseum
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Instagram: @delartmuseum

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