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Mayor Purzycki Launches Wilmington’s 3rd Annual Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Month in September

September 12, 2019

ESPN’s “First Take” with HBCU Week ambassador Stephen A. Smith will broadcast live from the 76ers Fieldhouse during the Friday, September 20 College Fair

Mayor Mike Purzycki announced today that he has proclaimed September as Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Month in Wilmington. The Mayor said the City’s annual celebration 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.


Sports television personality STEPHEN A. SMITH delivers keynote address at the 2019 HBCU celebration dinner, Friday, Mar. 01, 2019, at Hotel duPont in Wilmington, DE. Photo By Saquan Stimpson


Delaware has only one prominent HBCU – Delaware State University – but 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.

Wilmington’s #HBCUWEEK2019 will feature a live broadcast of ESPN’s “First Take,” with HBCU Week Ambassador Stephen A. Smith at the 76ers Fieldhouse, which will air during the 2019 College Fair being held in the same building. The goal of the week is to engage the City’s HBCU alumni as well as introduce high school juniors and seniors to the missions, proud legacies and future opportunities offered by these institutions of higher learning.


Mayor Purzycki said HBCU Week has been a gratifying experience for everyone involved because the City’s efforts to promote HBCUs to local students have 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, some were admitted to an HBCU on the spot, and more than 225 students received offers of scholarship assistance totaling over $1 million.  As we increase the number of young people who attend college, we are forever changing young lives and our communities for the better, and we anticipate even more success stories in 2019.”

More than 30 colleges and universities have been invited to participate in this year’s College Fair at the 76ers Fieldhouse. As many as 4,000 high school students are expected to attend. ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith and co-hosts Max Kellerman and Molly Qerim Rose are getting ready for their live Wilmington broadcast of their weekday morning sports talk show, “First Take,” during which they will be joined by bands from Delaware State University and Winston-Salem State University.

Local students participated in the second annual HBCU college fair in Wilmington, DE. Photo By Saquan Stimpson

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, as well as The Chemours Company and ESPN (Diamond Sponsors), Live Nation Urban (Platinum Sponsor), Delaware State University and 38/15 Media (Gold Sponsors), Toyota (Bronze Sponsor), and the Greater Wilmington Convention & Visitors Bureau (Silver Sponsor).

“JPMorgan Chase is proud to be the Presenting Sponsor for HBCU Week,” said Terrance Bowman, Head of Global Technology Diversity Attraction Strategy. “Creating opportunities for the community to learn more about education, careers, and financial literacy aligns with our Advancing Black Pathways initiative and firm values. Access to these pathways will help improve equity and prosperity for all people.”

File Photo: Delaware State University Executive Vice President and Provost Tony Allen delivers remarks during the Sixth annual Ebony Tie Affair Youth Luncheon at Delaware State University Saturday, Nov 18, 2017, in Dover, Del. Photo By Saquan Stimpson


said that the City’s HBCU Week activities are emblematic of the ongoing importance of these types 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;  and 40% of African American engineers.

Allen continued, “As one example, in Delaware—a state with one of the highest African American populations per capita in the United States—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.”

Community Referral Specialist, Earl Cooper, Special Assistant to the Mayor Ashley Christopher, Esq, and 3rd District Council Member Zanthia Oliver read to students at a local elementary school during HBCU Community Day Tuesday, Sept 18, 2018, in Wilmington Delaware. Photo By Saquan Stimpson


Mayor Purzycki noted that HBCUs play a big role in the everyday management of City government. Seven 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); City Auditor, Terence J. Williams (Howard 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.

* 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
Where: The Queen, 500 North Market Street
When: Wednesday, September 18, 2019, at 5:00 p.m.

* HBCU Alumni Professional Networking Reception
Where: The Queen, 500 North Market Street
When: Wednesday, September 18, 2019, at 6:00 p.m.

Portrait of Blake “The Brain” Sunders taken Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2019, in Wilmington, Delaware. Photo By Saquan Stimpson


* R&B Concert hosted by 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 Broadcast featuring Stephen A. Smith
Where: The 76ers Fieldhouse, 401 Garasches Lane
When: Friday, September 20, 2019; doors open at 7:00 a.m., taping starts 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, DSU, 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 2:00 p.m.)