Quaker Heritage Center Hosts 203 Wilmington Fourth Graders

May 18, 2017

Students View Dramatic Portrayal of the Amazing Henry “Box” Brown Story

Fourth grade students from Wilmington’s Holmes, Denver Place and East End elementary schools learned about the experiences of enslaved persons associated with the Underground Railroad this week when they went to college.

(PICTURED) Actor Rory Rennick mesmerized scores of local fourth graders as he gave a dramatic interpretation of the story of Henry “Box” Brown, the enslaved Virginian in the 1800s who literally escaped to freedom by having himself mailed to Philadelphia in a small wooden crate.

The Meriam R. Hare Quaker Heritage Center at Wilmington College hosted the 203 fourth grade students over two days (May 17 and 18) of programming that included hands-on activities linked to Common Core Standards for fourth grade social studies.

QHC curator Ruth Brindle said the program dovetailed with the students’ study of the Civil War, slavery and the Underground Railroad, and gave many an introduction to Quakers’ work as abolitionists as the nation faced the divisive and vexing slavery question.

“It worked out really, really well,” she added.

In addition to the small group individual sessions, each day’s activities culminated with a portrayal of abolitionist Henry “Box” Brown (1816-1897) by Rory Rennick. Brown was the 19th century Virginia slave who escaped to freedom by arranging to have himself mailed in a wooden crate to abolitionists in Philadelphia.

Brindle said she’s presented in many elementary school classes over the years, but to have students visit the College offered them greater insight into both the Underground Railroad and the institution that has been in their city since 1870.

“It’s a different dynamic having the kids on campus, where maybe we planted some seeds that got them thinking about going to to college,” she said. “They loved their experience here.”