Descendant Community Engagement Group public forums set for Nov. 28, Dec. 1

Utilizing funding in part by a grant from the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Henry A. Jordan, M.D., Preservation Excellence Fund, the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs is taking the next step in helping to form a Descendant Community Engagement Group for the John Dickinson Plantation. 

Two public forums are being planned to present the inclusive work being done at the site as well as the “Engaging Descendant Communities in the Interpretation of Slavery at Museums and Historic Sites” rubric developed by James Madison’s Montpelier and the National Trust for Historic Preservation. A virtual forum will be held from 6-7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 28, on Zoom, followed by an in-person forum from 3-4:30 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 1, at the John Dickinson Plantation, located at 340 Kitts Hummock Road in Dover. To join the Nov. 28 virtual forum, go to and use meeting ID “833 2683 9398” with the passcode “705455.”

Two opportunities are being offered in an effort to allow as many people as possible to participate. More details will be posted on the division’s and John Dickinson Plantation’s Facebook pages and on the division’s website.

Anyone interested in potentially becoming a member of the descendent community group, or just learning more about what is happening at the John Dickinson Plantation, are invited to join one or both of the sessions. 

 “We want everyone who feels a connection to the site or the area to feel welcomed to join,” said Historic Sites Team Manager Daniel Citron. “We have heard from people who don’t think they qualify to be part of the descendant community group due to perceptions of old, overly strict definitions of who can participate. We are following the more inclusive definition of the group as put forward in the Engaging Descendant Communities rubric.”

While the division is helping to form the Descendant Community Engagement Group for the plantation, this group is intended to be an independent organization that will collaborate with the division. This collaboration will be wide-ranging and include providing recommendations for the management and interpretation of the African Burial Ground and expansion of the narrative of the John Dickinson Plantation as a site of enslavement. Ultimately, the group can decide how formal or informal of an organization they want to be and how they govern themselves. Community involvement is a vital part of historic site preservation and interpretation, especially at one that covers difficult topics such as slavery.

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