Remembering Wilmington 1968 with The Rock Lot - Delaware


Aug. 17, 2018 12:57 pm

Remembering Wilmington 1968 with The Rock Lot

An exploration of how the city is still coping, 50 years later, with nine months of National Guard occupation.

The weekly drumming circle at The Rock Lot.

(Photo via Creative District/Facebook)

Fifty years ago, in the aftermath of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. assassination, Wilmington’s Eastside and West Center City spent nine months under National Guard occupation — the longest domestic military occupation during peacetime in U.S. history — in response to the April 9 protests.

Delaware has never fully recovered.

In remembrance of the demonstrations and the subsequent occupation, historical exhibitions like the one at the Delaware Art Museum bring the events back to life with photos, stories and community forums.

The Rock Lot, a “pocket park” located at 305 W. 8th St. in what is now Wilmington’s Creative District, was part of the occupied area in 1968. On Aug. 22, Ashley S.K. Davis of Pieces of a Dream will present a dance and dialogue workshop about the community in 1968 Wilmington and how the events of that year continue to affect the city.

The Rock Lot opened in August 2017, the first project of Vacant to Vibrant, funded by National Endowment for the Arts, the Delaware Economic Development Office, Nemours, the Delaware State Legislature and the Delaware Department of Justice. Designed by Groundswell Design Group with seating designed and constructed by The Challenge Program, the space hosts regular outdoor events, including spoken word, community art projects and a seasonal drumming circle on Tuesdays.


The 1968 workshop will serve as inspiration for a commissioned interdisciplinary collaboration between Davis and visual artist Terrence Vann, which will be presented at the Delaware Art Museum on Sept. 16 at 1 p.m.

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