Black History Month: A look at DSU’s history

Dover, DE – As Black History Month continues, Delaware State University’s historian is reflecting on Black history right in Delmarva’s backyard.

On May 15, 1891, Delaware State University, then known as the Delaware College for Colored Students opened their doors. Their historian, Carlos Holmes, says at that time the HBCU was given limited resources financially, especially from the state.

In 1949, after World War II, many black G.I’s came to the college, causing the school to over-enroll,  and leading to them losing accreditation because of sub-par living facilities and resources.

We’re told black students tried to apply elsewhere but were turned away, which would actually lead to a civil rights lawsuit.

“It was still the days of segregation. The students hired Lewis Redding, the fame civil rights attorney,” Holmes says. “This was the first major case of his career, I believe. Parker vs. The University of Delaware.”

That 1951 lawsuit was ruled in favor of the students. The judges decision said that they were not being offered equal educational facilities.

But, DSU students wouldn’t stop there. Holmes says several students would actively take part in the civil rights movement, which led to some even getting arrested during state sit-ins at the Hollywood Diner in Dover.

Holmes says this history highlights the perseverance of African-Americans and the fight in Delaware for an equal education.

“It’s our history and we should celebrate it,” Homes says. “And by the way I’ve always considered Delaware State University to be a part of black history. It’s a part of Delaware’s black history. We’re the only HBCU in Delaware.”

“We have to keep that alive because if we don’t learn from our history, you know what they say, than we are bound to repeat it again and some of that stuff is not worth repeating,” said Holmes.

DSU would regain their accreditation in 1957.

Here is a fun fact about DSU: the first graduating class was only two African-Americans in the year 1898.

Since then, the school has grown exponentially, now enrolling over 5,000 students.

Categories: Black History Month, Delaware, Local News