Wilmington Civil Rights Activist William H. “Dutch” Burton is Remembered with a State Historical Marker and Street Naming for His Role in the Landmark Decision Burton v. Wilmington Parking Authority
The City of Wilmington, State of Delaware, The Buccini/Pollin Group, Inc. and the Wilmington Parking Authority today joined with family and community members to formally recognize and honor the late Wilmington City Council Member and civil rights activist William H. “Dutch” Burton at the site where Mr. Burton became part of local and national history. Burton Place, a new street located within the Residences at Mid-Town Park residential complex on West 9th Street, was unveiled today as was a state historic marker to commemorate the landmark court decision Burton v. Wilmington Parking Authority, which eventually led to the abolishment of Delaware’s discriminatory public accommodations law.
In the late 1950’s, at the site of today’s event, then City Council Member Burton parked his vehicle at the former Mid-Town Parking Center owned by the Wilmington Parking Authority (WPA) and walked to the nearby Eagle Coffee Shoppe, which leased space from the WPA, a quasi-government agency established by the State of Delaware in 1951 to encourage greater parking access for downtown businesses. Burton was refused service at the coffee shop because he was African American. Louis L. Redding, a local civil rights attorney who helped litigate Brown v. Board of Education, became involved in the dispute, which eventually ended up before the U.S. Supreme Court. The Supreme Court ruled that private tenants of a public facility were bound by the 14th Amendment and could not discriminate on the basis of race.
Present for today’s event were Michelle Burton Scales, the daughter of William H. “Dutch” Burton, and Mr. Burton’s grandchild, Maynard Scales.
Today’s event included remarks by Wilmington Mayor Michael Purzycki, City Council Members Nnamdi O. Chukwuocha and Samuel L. Guy, State Representative Stephanie T. Bolden, Retired Superior Court Judge Charles H. Toliver IV, The Buccini/Pollin Group co-founder Rob Buccini and Executive Vice President of The Buccini/Pollin Group, Michael Hare. It was Council Member Guy who, in 1998, and again in 2017, sponsored Council Resolutions that were approved by his colleagues seeking to have the WPA join in honoring William H. “Dutch” Burton and to forever remember the significance of Mr. Burton’s actions to end discrimination.
The inscription on the state historical marker that was unveiled today reads as follows:
“In August 1958, Wilmington City Councilman and Civil Rights activist William “Dutch” Burton worked with the NAACP to expose the racially discriminatory practices of the Eagle Coffee Shoppe. The restaurant was located on this site in a complex owned and operated by the Wilmington Parking Authority. When Burton was denied service at the Eagle due to his race, attorney Louis L. Redding filed suit against the Authority. The case was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which decided in favor of Burton in 1961. The Court ruled that private tenants of a public facility were bound by the 14th Amendment and could not discriminate on the basis of race”- Delaware Public Archives 2018
John Rago, City of Wilmington, 302.420.7928
Stan Soja, Wilmington Parking Authority, 302.655.4442
Julia Mason, Buccini/Pollin Group, 302.691.2128
ABOUT THE BUCCINI/POLLIN GROUP:
Celebrating their 25th anniversary, The Buccini/Pollin Group, Inc. (BPG) is a privately held, integrated real estate acquisition, development and management company with offices in Washington DC, Wilmington Delaware, Philadelphia, and Baltimore. Buccini/Pollin has developed and acquired hotel, office, residential, retail, and parking properties throughout the United States. Buccini/Pollin has acquired, developed and owns real estate assets having a value in excess of $4.0 billion, including over 40 hotels, 7 million square feet of office and retail space, 10 major residential communities, and multiple entertainment venues, including Talen Energy Stadium, home of the Philadelphia Union Major League Soccer team. The principals of Buccini/Pollin, along with PM Hotel Group (hotel operating company), BPG Real Estate Services, LLC (office property management and leasing), ResideBPG (residential property management and leasing), and BPGS Construction, LLC (construction management), oversee all aspects of project acquisition, finance, development, construction, leasing, operations, and disposition for its portfolio properties. The Buccini/Pollin Group has over 3,500 employees in 12 states. For more information, please visit www.bpgroup.net.
ABOUT THE WILMINGTON PARKING AUTHORITY:
The Wilmington Parking Authority (WPA) was formed in 1951 to provide off-street parking for the public good. Since its founding, the Authority has developed a number of garages and parking lots throughout downtown Wilmington. At present, the WPA operates six garages and two lots which are open to the public and are available for both monthly and short-term parking. For more information, please visit www.wilmingtonparking.com
(L-R) Maynard Scales, Mayor Purzycki, Michelle Burton Scales
Historical marker at 9th and Shipley Streets, Wilmington
News and information from the Office of Wilmington Mayor Mike Purzycki
Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy and Communications
Mobile: (302) 420-7928
Marketing & Communications Manager
Mobile: (302) 691-2128
Stanley F. Soja, Jr.
Phone: (302) 655-4442