Mayor Williams Pens Open Letter and Encourages City to Celebrate Black History Month

Posted on  02/11/2014 11:18 am

Dear Residents and Neighbors,

Our country, was founded under the guiding principle that: no matter who you are, where you come from, what you look like, or your economic status, if you work hard enough you can be free and successful. It is what is called the American Dream- a belief that all men are created equal and have the opportunity to achieve through a measure of hard work, dedication, and sacrifice. Still for some, this dream of freedom, equality and fairness, has been deferred and at times even denied.

African Americans could not share in our nation’s value of freedom until 150 years ago when President Lincoln fought to abolish slavery. It was a little more than 50 years ago that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. marched on Washington and delivered a message, longing for a day of justice, equality and brotherhood for all. While freedom and equality have not always been easily attained, America continues to move forward, break down barriers towards progress and bridge the gaps to ensure we all can enjoy the rights our forefathers fought for.

February is Black History Month - or National African American History Month. This annual recognition is a celebration and recognition of the achievements by African Americans and their significant role in American history. Black History Month is a time to reflect not on the travesties of the struggle, but achievements of our efforts. This month should also remind everyone of the importance of human rights for all people.

The City of Wilmington and the State of Delaware embraced the Civil Rights movement. We are proudly the home of many Civil Rights giants such as Louis L. Redding, the first African-American to pass the Delaware bar; Peter Spencer, founder of the first independent black Christian Church in the United States; Honorable Collin Seitz, who ordered the end to public-school segregation in Delaware; Reverend Maurice Moyer, who marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and was assigned to start Delaware's first black Presbyterian church; and Mayor James Sills, the first African American Mayor for the City of Wilmington.

Because these pioneers shared common values, such as honor, courage, dignity, a sense of duty, a sense of sacrifice for their fellow man, no matter who they were, they were able to open doors for every Delawarean. Their work in our community acts to inspire us all to do what we can, whenever rights are being violated or there is an opportunity to stand up for our American ideals.

Advances created not in spite of race, but accomplished by people able to look beyond it. It should be a depiction of progress made, together. I encourage all members of the Wilmington community to celebrate and observe Black History Month. Also, take a moment to reflect on some of Wilmington and Delaware’s civil rights giants. This is a collective legacy I envision continuing as we work together for the sake of Wilmington, the State of Delaware and the United States of America.


Dennis P. Williams
Mayor, City of Wilmington