A Separate Place : The Schools that P.S. du Pont Built
Separate Place: The Schools P.S. du Pont Built (2001) tells the surprising story of the connection between Pierre S. du Pont's philanthropy and efforts by African Americans to obtain quality education. It begins in the era of racial segregation, and focuses on the 89 schools built by P.S. du Pont in the 1920s that vastly improved the education facilities for Delaware's black community. Once they were completed, the movie shows how committed African American educators turned these schools into effective centers for education and achievement. But legally-mandated racial segregation still limited educational opportunity; consequently, Delaware's African Americans hailed the U.S. Supreme Court's 1954 Brown decision. A Separate Place shows that school segregation in Delaware did not in fact end until 1967 because of white resistance; and even when it did, African Americans still struggled to attain quality education. The film closes by chronicling how the former du Pont schools have become sites of historical preservation efforts by black communities that remember their contribution to their education. The investment of Delaware's African American community in these schools, both in the Jim Crow era and today, is the message viewers are left with.
The voices of former students and teachers in the du Pont schools provide most of the film's content, supplemented by commentary from Dr. Jeanne Nutter, the film's executive producer and herself a product of a du Pont-built school. Their moving recollections have entranced thousands of school children who have seen the movie, along with adult audiences.
A teacher's guide produced by Hagley's Education Department supplements the film, especially for school use, with documents from Hagley's research collections, such as before and after pictures of African American schools and letters from children to P.S. du Pont written in the 1920s.
A Separate Place is a production of the Hagley Museum and Library. It was made possible by the Longwood Foundation and was partly funded by grants from the Delaware Humanities Forum, a state program of the National Endowment of the Humanties.