A New Documentary Film Tells the History of Delaware State University

Three years ago, Marilyn P. Whittington, executive director of Delaware Humanities, a nonprofit organization based in Wilmington that is affiliated with the National Endowment for the Humanities, proposed making a documentary film on the history of historically Black Delaware State University in Dover. She brought in filmmaker Michael Oates to undertake the project.

Recently the film entitled A Legacy of Opportunity was shown to a select group on the Delaware State campus. The 52-minute film will be shown publicly during Black History Month in February and has been made available on YouTube (See it below.)

The film tells the story of the educational institution that started in 1891 with 12 students meeting in an old plantation house to the vibrant global university it is today with undergraduate enrollments of nearly 4,000 students and graduate programs for more than 300 students. Carlos Holmes, director of news services at Delaware State University stated that ‘we’ve been able to capture in this documentary, Delaware State University history, Delaware history, Black history. U.S. history, and historical Black colleges and universities history.”

Oates and his team interviewed more than 50 people for the documentary. He said it was difficult to decide what to include in the final product of the film. He donated unused footage to the university.

“There is plenty left to tell more stories and take different angles if the student want to,” Marilyn Whittington told the Delaware State News. Whittington holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Delaware and a master’s degree from Central Michigan University. She is a former professor at Delaware Technical and Community College.

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  1. My mother graduated from DSC. Her commencement speaker was Mary McLoed Bethune. My brother also graduated from DSC, came back as an officer in the Marine Corp and inducted several young men into the Marine Corps, during their graduation.

  2. Great Job in putting this together. Would love to see all incoming freshman be required to view this, puts a lot of things in perspective! This needs to go viral!!! Love my HBCU

  3. I’m a relative of M. Laws. Would like learn the rolls she played at the school.Her sister was my grandmother. My father mentioned that they may had live there or near and helped get the college started. It’s a hall named after her. The film was every interesting and will let my family know of it. Thanks a lot and take care. Hugh

  4. Very proud to say third generation graduate from DSU class of 1979.
    My parents were educated under the high school program in the 1930’s.
    My great nephew received his pilot and will graduate class of 2019.
    “I’m so glad I go to DSU”

  5. While this is a good project its not the first time this was brought up. I’m always confused why DSU wants someone else to tell their story when we are capable of producing this film ourselves. 50 people get to tell the history of DSU and DSC after thousands have graduated from there. Ill be interested to see topics that were covered in this film.

  6. My father attended Palmer Memorial Institute in Sedalia, North Carolina where Dr. Charlotte Hawkins Brown was president (two year school). She selected several schools for the students to complete their degrees-she selected Delaware State for my father. He shared with us many stories about the time he spent there majoring in agriculture.

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