Mayor Williams and City Council Host Rededication for Peter Spencer Plaza (Photo Gallery)
Posted on 02/28/2014 2:59 pm
Today, Mayor Dennis P. Williams joined City Council President, Theo Gregory, members of City Council and other City officials to celebrate the rededication of Peter Spencer Plaza. During the ceremony, Mayor Williams signed the City Council ordinance which officially reestablished the Wilmington Civil Rights Commission.
“During Black History Month we honor and recognize the contributions of African Americans across the country, but we must also take the opportunity to honor those who directly impacted our community. Peter Spencer was not only a pioneer for African Americans but people of all races,” said Mayor Williams. “While we have come far, there is still much work to be done to ensure everyone is treated equally and have access to the same opportunities. Peter Spencer Plaza stands as a reminder of one of our City’s progressive leaders that helped move the City of Wilmington forward.”
Peter Spencer founded the first independent, African American church in the United States. The church was located in Wilmington, Delaware. Born a slave in Kent County, Maryland, Spencer (1779-1843) was freed following the death of his master and came to Wilmington, where he joined the Asbury Methodist Episcopal Church. In 1805, upset by the church’s treatment of blacks, he and roughly 40 others walked out and formed their own congregation. They continued to associate with the denomination until further interference by the white congregation led to the creation of the African Union Methodist Protestant Church (A.U.M.P.) in 1813.
The Department of Parks and Recreation, which spearheaded the renovation of Peter Spencer Plaza, dedicated $978,566 to updating pavers, improving maintenance features, adding new benches, planting trees, adding a new rain garden and storm water run-off system, and improving the landscaping features. Claude McCrea, the Director of Parks and Recreation, stated, “Peter Spencer Plaza is a historic landmark for the City of Wilmington, as he remains such a prominent figure in the history of the City. Under the vision of Mayor Williams, we wanted to transform the plaza into a beautiful place for everyone to enjoy.”
The re-dedication ceremony featured remarks from Reverend Dr. Lawrence Livingston, of Mother African Union Church, where he shared the legacy of Peter Spencer and how he impacted and influenced our community. Reverend Livingston stated how Peter Spencer should be revered as one of the City and State of Delaware’s forefathers of the Civil Rights Movement, alongside the likes of Louis L. Redding, Herman Holloway Sr., James Gilliam Sr., Reverend Maurice Moyer, and many others.
During the rededication ceremony, Mayor Williams, joined by City Councilmember Darius Brown, signed a City Council ordinance to re-establish the Wilmington Civil Rights Commission. The Wilmington Civil Rights Commission will be charged with securing freedom from discrimination for all individuals within Wilmington because of age, color, creed, mental or physical disability, familial status (including source of income), gender identity, national origin or ancestry, marital status, race, religion, sex, and sexual orientation. The anti-discrimination process would cover areas such as employment, housing, public accommodation, education, and credit.