Louis Redding was the first African American attorney admitted to the Delaware Bar, and he played an important role in the legal case that led to the desegregation of the University of Delaware.. For more than two decades, Redding was the only non-white attorney in Delaware. Throughout his 57-year career, Redding championed civil rights issues in Delaware, successfully handling cases that challenged discrimination in housing, employment, public accommodations, and education. Redding became a public defender for the State of Delaware in 1965 and continued in the post until his retirement in 1984.
In 1950, Redding represented ten African-American applicants before the Delaware Court Chancery against the University of Delaware. These students were refused admittance to the University of Delaware on the basis of their race. That suit - Parker v. University of Delaware - resulted in the full court-ordered desegregation of all educational programs at the University of Delaware, signaling a significant new chapter in the modern history of the university.
Another of Redding's cases - Belton v. Gebhart - was combined with those from several other states to become the landmark case Brown v. Board of Education. Redding was part of the legal team led by Thurgood Marshall that argued Brown before the United States Supreme Court. Redding also successfully argued Burton v. Wilmington Parking Authority before that court in 1961, striking down additional blows against segregation within public accommodations.
After the death of Louis Redding in 1988, the University of Delaware memorialized him with the Louis L. Redding Chair for the Study of Law and Public Policy. The annual Louis L. Redding Lecture – sponsored by the Office of Equity and Inclusion, the Center for Black Culture, and the departments of English and History – was named in his honor, as was the Louis L. Redding Diversity Award, sponsored by the President’s Diversity Initiative.
Eliphalet Wheeler Gilbert served as the first and third president of the University of Delaware (then known as Newark College) from 1834 to 1835 and again from 1840 to 1847. Gilbert was born in Lebanon, York in 1793 and in 1817 he received ordination as a Presbyterian minister and appointment as pastor of the Second Presbyterian minister and appointment as pastor of the Second Presbyterian Church in Wilmington in 1817.
The establishment of Newark College in 1833 was a process dominated largely by the Presbyterian community in Delaware. Gilbert was elected to his first term as president of Newark College in 1834, replacing its temporary principle. Gilbert resigned in 1825 in protest against the use of lottery proceeded to finance the development of the college.
Gilbert was replaced by Richard Sharp Mason, whose presidency ended in 1840 with demands for his recognition over the perceived failures of his administration. Those trustees turned again to Gilbert to rescue the struggling institution, naming him the third president of Newark College. Hoping to secure needed financial support from the Presbyterian church, he led the legislative effort to redirect lottery funds so that those monies passed indirectly to the school, appeasing the moral concerns of its advocates. Reflecting new statewide aspirations, he successfully gained support to change the institution’s name from Newark College to Delaware College, until it was changed in 1921.
As an active faculty member and president, Gilbert achieved greater success that his predecessor in securing stability and discipline in student life at Delaware College. He resigned in 1847 and returned to his ministry where he became pastor of the Western Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, a position he held until his death in 1853.
About Louis L. Redding & Eliphalet Gilbert Halls: The newest addition to the University's residence halls, the Louis L. Redding and Eli Gilbert halls, on East Campus opened in August 2013. Louis Redding & Eliphalet Gilbert halls joins Russell Complex on the Beach, with a sand volleyball court and lighted turf field behind Perkins Student Center (home to The Scrounge, Dunkin Donuts, and The Hen Zone).
Who You'll Find Here: First year students will be living in both buildings, with first year honors students living in Louis Redding. Residence Life & Housing offices will be on the first floor of Eliphalet Gilbert.
Environmental Impact: The new Louis L. Redding and Eliphalet Gilbert Halls are the most environmentally friendly halls at the University of Delaware. All design team members are LEED accredited professionals, bringing the environment to the forefront from conceptualization to production. Learn more about the environmental impact of Louis Redding and Eliphalet Gilbert Halls (PDF).
Photos of Louis Redding and Eliphalet Gilbert are courtesy of the Delaware Historical Society.
Information about Louis Redding and Eliphalet Gilbert is courtesy of the Universiity of Delaware Archives & Records Management.