New Castle, DE – New Castle County Executive Matt Meyer applauded County Council’s passage yesterday of a resolution that will enable the County to preserve and utilize Hockessin Colored School #107 in partnership with the Friends of Hockessin Colored School (FOHCS) for future generations. The memorandum will be formally signed by the County Executive in the coming days at a public event at the school.
The school was the subject of one of the court cases in the 1954 United States Supreme Court decision, Brown v. Board of Education, that desegregated schools across the United States.
In collaboration with the FOHCS and the national Trust for Public Lands, the school, a relic of our separate and unequal past, will be renovated as a bastion for diversity, inclusion, historical education, and social equity, utilizing HCS #107’s unique place in our nation’s history.
“This is a proud day for New Castle County,” said County Executive Matt Meyer. “This building will be preserved for future generations to learn and understand our country’s and our county’s ugly history of injustice, while also serving as a monument to the hard-fought battles of the civil rights movement and the work still left to be done.”
“We are so grateful to welcome New Castle County leadership and County Council as partners in our mission to transform the former Hockessin Colored School #107 into a Diversity Training, Inclusion and Social Equity Center,” said David Wilk, Board Chair, Friends of Hockessin Colored School #107. “We invite everyone in the community to join us in teaching future generations how to defeat discrimination through inclusion, tolerance, and the divine belief that ’all men and women are created equal.’”
All of this would not have been possible without the tireless efforts and leadership of FOHCS Board members, the Late Judge Leonard Williams, Bill Allen, Dr. Tony Allen, Dick Christopher, The Honorable C.J. Seitz, Drew Fennell, Fred Sears, and The Honorable Joshua Martin and Cynthia Primo Martin, who were responsible for raising the money to save the School from Sheriff’s sale in 2012 through the Delaware Community Foundation’s African American Empowerment Fund (AAEF) and individual donors. This tremendous effort allowed us to reach this incredible milestone with the County.
Hockessin Colored School #107, located at 4266 Mill Creek Road in Hockessin, served Delaware’s African-American students in the early 20th century. The conditions were found to be unequal to those of white students in violation of the United States Constitution, in a legal case later joined on appeal to become Brown vs. Board of Education.
New Castle County will pay two outstanding mortgages on the property, totaling $172,000 to repay the AAEF by December 31 of this year – while Board members of the FOHCS continue to preserve and maintain the School property by paying out of pocket. The FOHCS will design and construct all improvements to HCS #107, and partner with Trust for Public Lands (TPL), to fundraise for the school’s operational and capital budgets, with a goal of $1.5 million to establish permanent operations of the School.
The County will be responsible for maintenance and upkeep of the grounds and the structure(s) on the property. The County will split operating expenses for the property, such as utilities, custodial services, snow removal and grounds maintenance, 75%-25%.
About Hockessin Colored School #107 (www.hockessincoloredschool107.org)
The Hockessin Colored School, built in 1920 to serve black children who were not allowed to attend school with white children, played a pivotal role in the 1954 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Brown vs. Board of Education. The related case at Hockessin School 107C, Gebhart v. Belton (1952), was one of five similar cases appealed to the high court. It was the only case in which the lower court ruled in favor of the plaintiff, effectively causing Delaware to set the precedent for the Supreme Court’s final ruling in Brown v. Board of Education.
About Friends of the Hockessin Colored School
Friends of Hockessin Colored School 107 is a 509(a)(2) Public Charity under (IRC) Section 501(c)(3). Focused on reintroducing HCS #107 as a "place of social impact, diversity and educational innovation” rooted in its history in ending school desegregation (Bulah v. Gebhart) with a programming focus as center for diversity, inclusion, and social equity, to be utilized by healthcare systems and caregiver agencies, government agencies (Federal, State, Local), community stakeholders organizations (CSO’s), non-profits and colleges and universities.