Morrill Act celebration on tap at DSU

DOVER — The governor will come to Dover Tuesday to help Delaware State University kick off its weeklong celebration of the 125th anniversary of the 1890 Morrill Act.

At 11:15 a.m. Gov. Jack Markell will present a proclamation establishing April 20-24 as “Delaware 1890 Land-Grant University Week.”

The federal legislation is responsible for the school’s establishment one year later as a land-grant college.

“This legislation really made it possible to start what we wanted with the institutions of this kind,” said Delaware State spokesman Carlos Holmes.

“Given what I know about the history of Delaware, I highly doubt that a black college would have been started if it hadn’t been for the Morrill Act.

“It took place during a time when there weren’t a lot of opportunities for higher education for African-Americans.”

In 1890, U.S. Sen. Justin Morrill crafted the Second Morrill Act to further his vision of higher education for all.

This second land-grant act became law on Aug. 30, 1890, as it improved upon the first Morrill Act of 1862 by creating institutions, like Delaware State University, for minority residents of primarily Southern states who were denied admission to the publicly funded and supported 1862 land-grant universities.

Following the enactment of the 1890 Morrill Act, Delaware received funding from that legislation resulting in the establishment of the state’s only historically black institution of higher education, the State College for ColoredStudents, which ultimately became Delaware State University.

DSU and the other 18 campuses that comprise the 1890 land-grant system continue to provide students with access to education that enhances their opportunities for future success.

“The celebration will continue throughout the year,” said Troy Darden, co-chair of the 125th anniversary of the 1890 Second Morrill Act Committee. “There will be a national component to the celebration in July. There will be exhibits and members of congress and convocation.

All of the events are open to the public. Gov. Markell will present his proclamation in the Martin Luther King Jr. Student Center at 11:15 a.m. Tuesday.

At 7 p.m. Wednesday guest speaker Joe Madison, nationally known satellite radio political and civil rights talk show host, will present “1890 Land-Grant Past, Present and Future: A Time to Reflect” in Parlor C of the Martin Luther King Jr. Student Center.

Also DSU will hold an 1890 Day Wellness Walk and Carnival on its campus from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday.

The registration fee of $18.90 will help establish the Justin S. Morrill Memorial Scholarship fund for DSU students.

“The walk on the 23rd will happen at the same time on all 19 universities as well,” Ms. Darden said. “All of these events will commemorate this celebration.”

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