Wilmington 1968

2018 marks the 50th anniversary of the powerful and community-changing public response that followed the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. While demonstrations occurred throughout the country, Wilmington suffered the longest peace-time occupation by the National Guard in United States history, spanning nine months. The civil disturbances and military occupation left an indelible mark on the community.

A trio of exhibitions, on view from June 30 through September 30, 2018, focus on three key chapters in the Civil Rights Movement. The Museum organized a display of thirty drawings of the Montgomery Bus Boycott (1955–56) by Harvey Dinnerstein and Burton Silverman. We will host the traveling show Danny Lyon: Memories of the Southern Civil Rights Movement, a collection of photographs for the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (1963–64). In addition, the Delaware Art Museum commissioned Hank Willis Thomas to interpret and employ photographs of the 1968 demonstrations and occupation taken by Wilmington News Journal staff for the creation of a new work of art. A series of public programs will directly address core concerns of the Civil Rights Movement and present-day racial and social justice issues through live performances, community-led conversations, visual documentary workshops, and offsite community events with partnering organizations.

The Delaware Art Museum is proudly a part of the community-wide reflection, Wilmington 1968. This local series includes projects, exhibitions, and programs that remember the occupation and uprising in Wilmington and respond to critical issues facing the community today. To learn more about Wilmington 1968 programs and events, visit Wilmington1968.org.


Danny Lyon: Memories of the Southern Civil Rights Movement

June 30, 2018 – September 9, 2018

The Montgomery Bus Boycott: Drawings by Harvey Dinnerstein and Burton Silverman

June 30, 2018 – September 9, 2018

Black Survival Guide, or How to Live Through a Police Riot

July 14, 2018 – September 30, 2018


Share your story!

Thursdays, July 19 & 26 and August 2 & 16 | 4:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

Your story matters. Your personal experiences add to our collective understanding of Wilmington’s history. Were you living, working, or attending school in the city during the occupation? Are you learning about these events for the first time? In partnership with University of Delaware’s Creative Writing Students, we invite you to share your response to the Wilmington occupation of 1968 on select Thursdays this summer.

Community Forums

Thursdays, July 26, August 2, and August 23 | 6:00 p.m.

This summer, community organizations will activate the galleries and visitors with a series of public forums focused on racial and social justice, civil rights, and education. Free.

Wilmington 1968: Commissioned Performances

TAHIRA and Jea Street: August 19 | 1:00 p.m. 
Ashley Davis and Terrance Vann: September 16 | 1:00 p.m.

Throughout the series of summer exhibition focused on the Civil Rights Movement, three original performances by local and regional performing artists will respond to the disturbances and subsequent occupation in Wilmington. These interdisciplinary performances and unique collaborations will combine music, visual arts, dance, and storytelling to interpret, give context, and call us to action around the events that shaped our nation and city.

Two performances pair artists working in different disciplines. Collaborations include musician Jea Street with storyteller TAHIRA, and dancer Ashley Davis with visual artist Terrance Vann. A third performance will include a two-week residency with performing artist Jaamil Kosoko. Free.

Beyond I Have a Dream – CANCELLED

Sorry, this program has been cancelled.

Presented by YWCA Delaware | Thursday, August 16 | 6:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.

We know “I have a dream,” but how well do we really know Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s story? As we mark the 50th anniversary of his assassination, learn more about his political views, organizing, and collaboration with other activists in this public program. Free.

For Freedoms Town Hall: Restorative Schools Issue Campaign

Wednesday, September 26 | 5:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. | Location: Kingswood Community Center

In partnership with Network Delaware, the Museum will present a Town Hall discussion on the Restorative Schools Issue Campaign moderated by exhibiting artist and For Freedoms co-founder, Hank Willis Thomas. A panel of community residents, organizers, practitioners, and scholars focused on civil rights, racial and social justice, law, and youth advocacy will engender a rich dialogue with community members.

Wilmington 1968 Sourcebook

The Wilmington 1968 Sourcebook is more than just a catalog for the Wilmington 1968 trio of exhibitions. The Sourcebook, compiled by Simone Austin and featuring essays from Ms. Austin as well as Dr. Jordan Howell and artist Hank Willis Thomas, is a collection of documents, photos and writing that shed light on Wilmington’s history during the Civil Rights movement. This book details the events that led to the National Guard occupation of Wilmington, Delaware and explores the occupation and its aftermath. $60.

Buy book now.

Published by the Delaware Art Museum
Compiled by Simon Austin
Designed by Candice Kearns
Edited by Deborah Krieger and Margaret Winslow
ISBN 9780996067652