Wilmington, Delaware – The YMCA’s Walnut Street branch opened 75 years ago in September 1940. Segregation loomed and African Americans were not permitted in the Central Y. A gift from H. Fletcher Brown solved that by funding both the building’s construction and maintenance. YMCA leadership welcomed the addition of the community building, allowing for the equality, respect and appreciation African Americans were fighting for.

City Council Member Darius Brown began a campaign to identify and commemorate 50 people and places in Eastside Wilmington that are part of a historic legacy for African Americans. It’s important that citizens today don’t forget who came before them to promote peace, freedom, equality and understanding in Delaware.

The YMCA of Delaware’s Walnut Street branch is exactly such a location and remains so to this day. Close to 200 school age children attend early childhood classes and before and after care daily. This summer, 400 inner city teenagers received a free membership to the downtown Central Y and to the Walnut Street branch as part of the Y’s Take On Summer initiative. Take On Summer was a way to engage teenagers in a safe place, supervised by encouraging role models with many positive activities such as swimming, the fitness center, ping-pong, field trips, social events and more.

The Historic State Marker unveiling takes place on Tuesday, September 22nd from 11:30am – 1pm at the Walnut Street location, 1000 North Walnut Street, Wilmington, Delaware 19801. Wilmington City Council Member Darius Brown will host the event and be joined by State Senator Margaret Rose Henry, Mayor Dennis Williams, City Council President Theo Gregory and other dignitaries.                                       

About the Y

The YMCA of Delaware is Delaware’s largest non-profit organization committed to strengthening the citizens of Delaware through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. With seven branches statewide and an overnight camp and conference center in Worton, Maryland, the Y has developed long-standing relationships and a physical presence in Delaware so it can deliver lasting personal and social change. We are committed to serving everyone – regardless of age, income or background – to nurture the potential of every child and teen, improve Delaware’s health and wellbeing and provide opportunities to give back and support neighbors.  

Our Mission

The YMCA is an association of people of all ages, ethnic groups and religious affiliations that strives to cultivate the human potential, self-esteem, and dignity of all people. Our organization exists to develop and practice the Christian principles of love, caring, inclusiveness, justice and peace…and to enrich the emotional, physical and social life of all individuals, families and our community.