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Delaware Senate Democrats

ADVISORY: Mayor James H. Sills Jr. statue to be unveiled by Senator Darius Brown on April 30

April 26, 2022

WHAT: A turning point in Delaware history will be commemorated Saturday when city, state and federal leaders unveil a new statue Saturday dedicated to the life, legacy, and service of James H. Sills Jr., the first African American mayor of Delaware’s largest city.

“Celebrating the rich history of the City of Wilmington and the contributions of transformational figures is absolutely vital for understanding who we are, where we come from and the progress we have made here in Delaware,” said Senator Darius Brown, who led the effort to create and install the statue. “Mayor Sills is a great man and a trailblazing public servant whose groundbreaking accomplishments deserve to be remembered for generations. I want to thank the Sills family, the City of Wilmington and everyone who lent a hand to making sure we were able to commemorate Mayor Sills’s 60-year legacy of faithful public and community service during his lifetime.”

A native of North Carolina and proud graduate of Morehouse College, Sills moved to Wilmington in 1959 and immediately began working to advance the rights of Black Delawareans as president of the Wilmington NAACP, founding director of the Urban Agent Program and later as the founder of the Delaware Community Reinvestment Action Council. Sills was involved in the desegregation of Wilmington’s public school in 1978, served as vice president of the New Castle County School Board and president of the Christina School Board, taught at the University of Delaware for 25 years and served on Wilmington City Council and in the Delaware House of Representatives.

In 1992, Sills was elected Mayor of the City of Wilmington, becoming the first African American to serve as the chief executive of city government.

“The issue when I ran for mayor was making the city more livable for the people already here. That meant giving priority to developing downtown Wilmington, the waterfront, building more homes for residents and increasing and enhancing commercial and retail development,” Sills said. “The community and the unions were strongly in support of the incumbent mayor. Most experts didn’t think I could win. So, I take great pride in the fact that I won when I wasn’t supposed to.”

The James H. Sills Jr. statue will be located on the Brandywine Creek at the northwest corner of South Park Drive and North Market Street, just a few feet from the James H. Sills Bridge.

The life-size statue was created by renowned North Carolina-based sculptor Jon D. Hair, creator of the Clifford Brown Statue at Kirkwood Park and the statue of Sills’s hero former Morehouse College President Dr. Benjamin E. Mays near downtown Atlanta, among other notable works.

WHO: Mayor James H. Sills Jr.
Senator Darius Brown
U.S. Senator Tom Carper
U.S. Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester
Governor John Carney
New Castle County Executive Matt Meyer
Wilmington Mayor Mike Purzycki
Wilmington City Council President Trippi Congo
Representative Stephanie T. Bolden
Delaware State University President Dr. Tony Allen
Biden School of Public Policy Dean Dr. Maria Aristigueta
Additional guests and dignitaries

WHEN: 10 a.m.
Saturday, April 30

WHERE: South Park Drive and North Market Street
Wilmington, DE