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DELAWARE BACKSTORY

Event will introduce black hero of Brandywine

Days after Delaware saw the Battle of Cooch's Bridge, the state's only Revolutionary War fight, the next skirmish revealed Ned Hector as a hero.

So who was Ned Hector?

Hector, a free black man, fought the British and Hessians on Sept. 11, 1777, at the Battle of the Brandywine and was hailed as the only American who saved a wagon and horses. Historians quote Hector as saying, "I will save the horses or perish myself."

His one-of-a-kind success typifies the above-and-beyond efforts of black heroes in the war for independence -- heroism state officials say has "often been overlooked." But such heroes soon will be honored by a unique Delaware attraction -- the state's only urban historic program that's as much partnership as park.

Actor Noah Lewis will portray Hector, wagoner of the 3rd Pennsylvania Artillery Regiment, in a special event at 12:30 p.m. July 7 at Legislative Hall in Dover, hosted by First State Heritage Park. "African-American history is American history," Lewis said, but it's time to "start looking at ourselves in a more full way."

His visit builds on the park's new "Passage to Freedom" tours on black history in Dover, said lead interpreter Nate Davidson. "We decided it would be fitting for a couple of days after the Fourth of July to keep us in the spirit of the Revolution," he said.

Established in 2004, the "park without boundaries" includes Legislative Hall, the Delaware Public Archives, the Delaware Visitor Center and Galleries and Biggs Museum of American Art, the Delaware Archaeology Museum, the Museum of Small Town Life and the Johnson Victrola Museum, honoring the Delawarean who started Victor Talking Machine Co. Called Museum Square, the clustered archaeology, town life and Victrola sites, with parking at 375 S. New St., boast mega-topics in a mini-walk.

The park is almost one-stop shopping for newcomers seeking a fast grasp of Delaware history or locals brushing up on dusty fourth-grade schooling.

Reenactor Noah Lewis - CLICK on picture to see larger image 

Actor Noah Lewis portrays Ned Hector, a black hero of the Revolutionary War, to be featured in a July 7 event at Legislative Hall, Dover.

Photo courtesy of Noah Lewis  

 

CLICK HERE to see larger map

The park is an effort of the Department of State, Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control and Delaware Economic Development Office, with nonprofit groups, private interests and city and county governments.

Sites are open weekdays with special free programs 9 a.m.-5 p.m. the first Saturday of the month. (Easy parking at the archives, 121 Duke of York St.)

Lewis said he is excited about starring in July's "First Saturdays in The First State." After he shares Hector's life, the day's events move to The Green about 1:30 p.m. for music, dancing and kids' games. Guests can try Colonial infantry drilling, led by Lewis. "It will be a lot of fun," Davidson said. When that ends about 3:30 p.m., guests have about 1 1/2 hours to visit park sites.

It's a fun invite for newcomers or locals. And both kinds of Delawareans can help celebrate overdue recognition of black soldiers' legacy of heroism for freedom's sake.

Write to robin brown at The News Journal, Box 15505,

Wilmington, DE 19850; fax 324-5509; call 324-2856;

or e-mail backstory@delawareonline.com.

    

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