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Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs staff members are mourning the loss of Latecia Prophet, a former historic-site interpreter at The Old State House, who passed away on April 25, 2020.
Born and raised in New York City, Prophet moved to Dover, Del. in 1997 and worked at The Old State House from 2007 to 2009. After a five-year hiatus, she returned to the museum in 2014 where she remained until 2019.
During her stint at the site, Prophet was passionate about researching local history and sharing her knowledge with young people so that they could understand how local events impacted their lives. She was particularly proud of the research that she conducted on multiple generations of the Shadd family who were prominent African-American abolitionists; on Underground Railroad conductor Samuel D. Burris; and on James Summers, a free-black father who freed his own children and whose modern-day descendants come to the museum every year for family re-unions.
Prophet also enjoyed helping to create, and act in, historical-theater works including “Fully, Freely and Entirely—Becoming the First State” in which she portrayed ‘Latecia,’ a free-black woman; “William Penn vs Lord Baltimore: Let’s Get Ready to Rumble” in which she portrayed Britain’s King James II; and “Who Done It: A Historic Murder Mystery” in which she played the scary, intolerant, knife-wielding cook—who also was named ‘Latecia.’ “She loved the way we often named her characters ‘Latecia.’ … She had the best sense of humor” said Nena Todd, site supervisor of The Old State House.
Referring to Prophet’s portrayal of King James II, Todd added, “She had the wig, the crown, the fur cape and the scepter. She added the comic relief in that presentation and she was great! The audience laughed so hard. … I loved her courage and her spirit and will miss her greatly.”
According to her fellow historic-site interpreter Gavin Malone, “Latecia was a great colleague and friend for many years. We had a blast putting the Shadd program together. Taking the story from the simple question ‘Who was this Aunt Sallie Shadd?’ to discovering the story of a whole family (none named Aunt Sallie that we found!) was a great adventure I’m glad I got to share with her. What I’ll miss most was her enthusiasm for sharing not only the history of Delaware but her perspective of the things she’d seen and done. It was always a unique experience talking to her about anything because she always told you exactly what she thought and felt.”