Last Saturday, for an African-American Studies course, we ventured down to the Dover Green for some outdoor, experiential learning offered by the First State Heritage Park and the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs. For an hour on an attractive June day, we strolled around the Dover Green as a knowledgeable interpreter, Sarah, presented the “Slavery and Freedom Walking Tour.” Our period attired guide talked about Delaware’s complicated position regarding freedom and slavery and the role of the First State during the Civil War and we were caught up in the lively program. Along the way, we also examined the story of a brave group of runaway slaves known as the Dover Eight and how they made a daring escape from the Kent County Jail.
Just before the walk through an urban park without boundaries linked historical and cultural sites to the subjects we were examining, we’d stepped inside the old Delaware State House. Almost as it the passage through that big door had represented a time machine, our group was in an earlier century as another period attired educator dramatically shared the story of the Underground Railroad.
Since the First State Heritage Park was organized as a state park in 2004, I’ve attended many of their programs. They’re always excellent, the staff is knowledgeable, and the programs are thoroughly researched. These are some of the finest productions in the mid-Atlantic and it’s the type of learning opportunity one would expect to find in Williamsburg. But that trip isn’t necessary as it’s provided for us right here in Dover and it’s Delaware story.
It’s a great way to present engaging history lessons. The agencies involved are to be congratulated for producing such these most instructive programs and offering them in lively ways. The park without boundaries is a great asset. It does a fine job with a superb staff as they link the history and culture of the place that is the capital of the First State.