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Richard Allen Coalition Inc in Georgetown opened its doors in the 1920s as one of the 80 schools built by Philanthropist Pierre S. DuPont for African-American children in Delaware. This is one of the “DuPont Colored Schools” that continued to serve as the heart of the African-American community for more than half a century.
Beginning in 1829 when public schools were established in Delaware, both white and black Delawareans paid schools taxes. However, the taxes supported schools for white students only. The few schools for African-Americans that existed relied on contributions from local churches for land and materials. The modest wooden buildings were built with community-based labor.
When desegregation was implemented, it became part of the Indian River School District. Five years ago, the school district decided to close the school and has been vacant since then.
In 2010, a small group came together to form the Richard Allen Coalition Inc. We are a diverse group with a common goal: to restore the school so it can once again be a cultural, civic, and educational center. We found so much history in this school which has never been recorded, including baseball games held on the field behind the school and baseball teams formed by Luther Tingle.
On August 12, 2015, Phase I of our journey was completed when Governor Jack Markell signed the bill sponsored by Senator Brian Pettyjohn and Representative Ruth Briggs King which deeded the building to the Richard Allen Coalition. Phase II was a kick off with a gala at the Georgetown Cheer Center on February 6, 2016, which was a success.
Today, we are hosting programs on the grounds for the community. There has been considerable work within the building. With the community help, we have painted, sanded and worked to bring portions of the building into a useable facility. We are continuing to raise the funding needed to begin the renovation and restoration project of the Richard Allen Coalition School. It is an ambitious goal, but with the help of the grants, civic and business leaders of Sussex County, we can do it efficiently.
Students from the 50'
When Richard Allen School opened its door, it was a beacon of hope for African-Americans living in Jim Crow Delaware. When it opened, it welcomed all of us who wanted to learn about the past while helping our youth explore their talents and prepare for a wonderful future.
The state of Delaware mandated racially segregated schools until 1967. The Act of Free Schools of 1829 provided public education in Delaware, but taxes levied on both white and black citizens supported schools for white students only.
A few schools for blacks existed in the early 20th century but all land and material were acquired with contributions from local churches, and the modest wooden buildings were built with community-based labor.
Pierre S. DuPont, appalled by the unfair tax system and the lack of educational opportunities for Delaware’s’ black students, donated the funds to build more than 80 schools for black students throughout the state in the 1920s.
Five Generations of the Ingram Family
While Pierre DuPont’s generosity built the school, teachers and students had to rely on outdated books discarded by neighboring white schools. Eunice Richardson, 93, who attended Richard Allen Coalition Inc remembers, “We always got second-hand books, but we always had good teachers.”