You hold in your hands an important book--a document that restores an important but little-known part of our American heritage. Within these pages are stories of bravery, determination, principle and struggle, and we all benefit from the effort that brings to light valuable information on the history of African Americans in our region.
This book shares the truths of a group of Americans, truths that have only recently found their way into our history books. The individuals whose lives and contributions are chronicled here have surely helped shape our country--both in slavery and in freedom.
All of us owe a debt of thanks to the Christian Council of Delaware and Maryland's Eastern Shore and The Speer Trust Commission of New Castle Presbytery for their determination to celebrate the contributions of persons of color and for its decision and commitment to publishing this book.
Dr. Carole Marks has ably assembled this book. The Director of the University of Delaware Black American Studies Program since 1994, she has brought to the task a personal commitment and a reputation as a respected scholar. Dr. Marks has written several articles and made presentations on the topic of the black underclass and the work of black women, and she is the author of a book, Farewell, We're Good and Gone: The Great Black Migration. Certainly, her participation ensured the fine range of contributors who are featured in this book, several of whom are members of the University of Delaware faculty and staff.
Our thanks are due to all the participating scholars for enlightening us with their chapters. My advice to you is, "Take this book, read, and learn." We cannot hope to change the future until we have an appreciation for what came before us. This book is an important aid in what is certainly the chief struggle facing our nation--learning to live together, to--as the Greek philosopher Aeschylus so eloquently said--"make gentle the life of this world."
I recall the words of the late Robert F. Kennedy, who was asked to talk after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He said, "We can, perhaps, remember, if only for a time, that those who live with us are our brothers, that they share with us the same short moment of life, that they seek, as do we, nothing but the chance to live out their lives in purpose and in happiness, winning what satisfaction and fulfillment they can. Surely this bond of common faith, this bond of common goal, can begin to teach us something."
A History of African Americans in Delaware and Maryland's Eastern Shore eloquently captures the spirit of this bond of common faith and common goal, and it certainly teaches us something, something very important indeed.
David P. Roselle
University of Delaware
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