Delaware State University, Delaware’s only HBCU, joins the Partnership

Thursday, August 22 — Mayor Mike Purzycki announced today that he will proclaim September as Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Month in Wilmington. The City’s celebration, the Mayor said,is intended “to create more and more opportunities for Wilmington’s young people to attend college.” For the third year in a row, Wilmington will host a week long series of events, from Sunday, September 15 through Saturday, September 21, to promote awareness among local students and their families about the importance of HBCUs.  While Delaware has only one prominent HBCU –Delaware State University – there are 14 other Historically Black Colleges and Universities in the Mid-Atlantic Region (Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia) as well as about 85 others throughout the United States.

This year’s #HBCUWEEK2019 will feature a live broadcast of ESPN’s “First Take” with HBCU Week Ambassador Stephen A. Smith at the 76ers Field house during the hugely successful College Fair. The goal of the week is to engage the City’s HBCU alumni, as well as to introduce an expected 4,000 high school juniors and seniors to the mission, proud legacy and future opportunities offered by these institutions of higher learning. Smith and ESPN co-hosts Max Kellerman and Molly Qerim Rose are getting ready for alive broadcast from Wilmington of their weekday morning sports talk show,“First Take,” and they will be joined by bands from Delaware State University and Winston-Salem State University.

Mayor Purzycki said HBCU Week has been a very gratifying experience for all involved,and that the City’s efforts to promote HBCUs to local students have consistently exceeded all expectations. “Last year more than 1,500 students attended the College Fair, and nearly 700 received college offers,” said the Mayor.

 “Of those 700 applicants, some were admitted to an HBCU on the spot, and nearly 250 students

received scholar ship offers totaling over $1 million.  As we increase the number of young people attending college, we are forever changing young lives and our communities for the better. We anticipate even more success stories in 2019.” 

Another returning highlight from last year’s HBCU Week is the wildly popular HBCU Battle of the Bands that attracted nearly 7,000 people to Frawley Stadium in 2018 at the conclusion of the week. The 2019 battle will be hosted by Blake Saunders and feature bands from Lincoln University,Winston-Salem State University, Hampton University and North Carolina A&T State University.  Doors open at 2:00 p.m. and performances begin at 3:00 p.m.

The Mayor today thanked the HBCU Week 2019 sponsors, including Presenting Sponsor JP Morgan Chase; The Chemours Company and ESPN; Live Nation Urban; Delaware State University and 38/15 Medi; Toyota; and the Greater Wilmington Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Delaware State University Executive Vice President and Provost Tony Allen said that the City’s HBCU Week activities are emblematic of the ongoing importance of these type of institutions in America.   He commented,“HBCUs represent just 3% of all colleges and universities in America, but have produced more than half of the African American professionals in the country,including:

  • 50% of the nation’s African American public-school teachers;
  • 70% of African American dentists and physicians;
  • 50% of African American lawyers and dentists;
  • 40% of African American engineers and much, much more.” 

Allen continued, “As one example, in Delaware – a state with one of the highest African American populations per capita in the US – the lion’s share of college-educated African Americans are graduates of Delaware State University.  But beyond just the numbers, if you believe in access to quality higher education regardless of where you come from, what you look like, or who you love, then we all owe an enormous debt of gratitude to Historically Black Colleges and Universities in America.”  Delaware State University joins the City’s week long celebration with its own Homecoming activities on its Dover campus,highlighted by the University’s annual Prayer Breakfast on Friday, September 20, a Homecoming parade featuring three-time Super Bowl Champion Johnny Taylor on Saturday, September 21, and the Homecoming football game with Howard University later that day (See the full schedule here:

Mayor Purzycki also noted that HBCUs play a big role in the everyday management of Wilmington’s city government. Six members of the Mayor’s administration are HBCU graduates including the Mayor’s Chief of Staff, Tanny Washington (Norfolk State University); Special Assistant to the Mayor, Ashley

Christopher (Howard University); Community Referral Specialist, Earl Cooper (Morehouse College);Commissioner of Licenses and Inspections, Jeff Starkey (Hampton University);Director of Human Resources, Charlotte Barnes (Delaware State University); and Special Events Coordinator, Tiffany Christopher (Howard University). 

The following is a summary of the 2019 HBCU events planned for September 15 through 21:

  • HBCU Celebration Church Service
    Where: Bethel AME Church, 504 North Walnut Street
    When: Sunday, September 15, 2019, at 10:45 a.m. 

Congregation members are encouraged to wear HBCU or Greek Paraphernalia

  • HBCU-Themed Day Party

Where: DE.CO, 111 West 10th Street
When: Sunday, September 15, 2019, at 4:00 p.m. 

NOTE – The space will be decorated according to the HBCU theme.  A signature drink will be available along with food.

  • Delaware State University 7th and 8th Grade College Tour
    Where: Delaware State University, Dover, Delaware
    When: Tuesday, September 17, 2019; depart Wilmington at 9:00 a.m., leave Dover at 1:30 p.m.
  • Currency Conversation with JP Morgan Chase Executives
    Where: The Queen, 500 North Market Street 
    When: Wednesday, September 18, 2019, at 5:00 p.m.
  • HBCU Young Professionals Networking Hour
    Where: The Queen, 500 North Market Street 
    When: Wednesday, September 18, 2019, at 6:00 p.m.
  • R&B Concert hosted by Delaware State University Alumnus Blake Saunders

Featuring Ari Lennox
Where: The Queen, 500 North Market Street 
When: Wednesday, September 18, 2019, at 8:30 p.m.

Tickets available at

  • My HBCU Experience Panel Discussion
    Where: The Delaware Contemporary, 200 South Madison Street 
    When: Thursday, September 19, 2019, at 6:00 p.m.
  • ESPN “First Take” Live Taping featuring Stephen A. Smith and the Delaware State University Band, “The Approaching Storm”

Where: The 76ers Fieldhouse, 401 Garasches Lane
When: Friday, September 20, 2019; doors open at 7:00 a.m., tapingstarts at 10:00 a.m.

  • City of Wilmington HBCU College Fair
    Where: The 76ers Fieldhouse, 401 Garasches Lane
    When: Friday, September 20, 2019, from 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
    *Schools attending include Cheyney University, Lincoln University, Norfolk State University, Delaware State University, Virginia State University, Howard University, Hampton University, Benedict College, and more


  • HBCU Battle of the Bands hosted by Blake Saunders, featuring DJ Bran
    Where: Daniel S. Frawley Stadium, 801 Shipyard Drive 
    When: Saturday, September 21, 2019, at 3:00 p.m. (Doors open at 2 p.m.)

Questions about the 2019 City of Wilmington HBCU Week should be directed to AshleyChristopher at or 302.576.2110, or Earl Cooper at or 302.576.2133. For more information and a completeschedule of events, please visit: