252 Wilmington, DE: Our Own Drummer

Delaware propaganda can be found at the Delaware History Museum, a cheerful Art Deco storefront in downtown Wilmington that looked like a Hopper subject. Statues of Native Americans, people in Victorian costumes, and African Americans stood around awkwardly in the lobby, where a small amphitheater played a film titled Distinctly Delaware. However, the feature was "Two Centuries of DuPont Products in the Home." Corporate sponsorship at its finest.

The man behind the counter was a tweedy academic man with a graying beard and literally a tweed coat. "It depends on what you mean by isolation," he began in answer to my question. "If you mean is Wilmington isolated from the rest of the general region, maybe to some degree. We've got to march to our own drummer. If you mean isolated from each other, no."

"Talking about Wilmingtonians," he continued, "who have lived here for years and gone to school here and so forth, everybody practically knows each other." Then he added ominously, "But there are a lot of people who have come in relatively recently, and they sometimes don't quite get it. The entire state of Delaware is almost like a small town. Everybody knows everybody. But, I would have to amend that to say maybe some of the African Americans are more into their own culture and they all know each other. And the Caucasians are probably more of a group too. It is kind of split along racial lines."

Due to the founding Quakers' anti-slavery beliefs, Wilmington was a key stop on the Underground Railroad, and Wilmington's August Quarterly is the oldest continuously celebrated African American Festival in the nation. On condition that they return at the end of the weekend, slaves were permitted to gather once a year to celebrate and worship free from discrimination. However, Delaware was also the last Union state to ban slavery, and it voted against the Amendments that freed the slaves. Only in the early 1900s did it abolish the pillory --the last state in the Union to do so. Delaware flogged its last convict in 1952.

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