#PeopleOfWilmDE: Sarah McBride

Sarah McBride is the new state senator for First Senate District, which includes parts of Wilmington, as well as this week’s #PeopleofWilmDE! Read her story below:

“I was lucky enough to be born and raised in Wilmington. I attended elementary school on the east side at Elementary Workshop and then attended middle school and high school at Cab Calloway School of the Arts. After attending college in Washington, DC and spending the first few years of my career there, I moved back to Wilmington — the place I had always dreamed of coming home to spend the rest of my life.

Wilmington is my home. It’s where my family and lifelong friends live. It’s where my memories are and my future lies. It’s a creative community with a rich history and vibrant diversity. It is a city that has faced challenges, but is filled with people who persevered and never gave up fighting for a better world.

Photography by: Lia Clay Miller

One of the things that I so value about my Wilmington experience is that it is not limited to one area. I grew up in the Highlands. I went to school at 5th and Pine and learned to swim at the Walnut Street YMCA. I spent summer nights at the Blue Rocks and learned to fish on the Brandywine. I played in Haynes Park with friends and was part of teams that enjoyed the baseball fields by Warner and on the west side. If we break down the divides and see all of our city, there is so much to celebrate, enjoy, and get to know.

I was surprised by how moved I was witnessing the raising of the pride flag in Rodney Square a few years ago. It was a small gesture, but one that would have meant so much to me as a kid growing up here in Wilmington.

Fortunately, being active in the community is in my blood. Both my parents are active in the community, my dad in the legal and non-profit community and my mom in education. One of the things I love most about Wilmington is our outsized arts community. I’m proud to serve on the boards of both the Delaware College of Art and Design and the Delaware Art Museum, two of the staple arts institutions in our city. Now, as a member of the new Arts and Culture Caucus in the Delaware General Assembly, I’m looking forward to supporting and advocating for our creative economy and arts organizations.

One of my favorite recent memories was the performance of Step Africa at the Grand Opera House in collaboration with the Delaware Art Museum. The diversity of the audience – Wilmingtonians of all backgrounds from all parts of the city – was powerful. It was a profound example of how the arts can foster community and how our legacy institutions can partner to successfully program for the entirety of the city.

COVID has both amplified and accelerated challenges facing our community, from poverty to mental health to education to changes in how we work and connect with one another. It is my hope that Wilmington continues to utilize the creativity and imagination that got us through this pandemic as we work to recover and rebuild.

We must recognize that the impact of COVID-19 stretches past the virus itself. As we build a bridge to the other side of this pandemic, we must grapple with the longer term, downstream effects of this crisis. We cannot think that the crisis ends with our vaccination program. We must continue to feel the urgency and significance of this moment as we seek to address the educational and mental health consequences of the past year and a half and work to make Wilmington safe for all of our residents.

When you grow up or live somewhere, you often take for granted the extent of opportunities for fun and learning that surround you. I always enjoy when friends from out of town visit me because it offers an opportunity to explore the city with the freshness and interest of a newcomer. One silver lining of COVID is that it has reinforced that we can find fun locally. Whether it is a local museum, a hike, restaurants and art, there is so much to do in Wilmington. Take advantage of it and spend a Saturday discovering the city and surrounding area that we too often take for granted.

I am who I am because of Wilmington: my education, my relationships, and my experiences. It is a community that has embraced me in my truth and supported me through loss. I wouldn’t have made it through the challenges in my own life if it were not through the goodness of my neighbors across this city and beyond. It is part of my life’s mission to make that experience a reality for every Wilmingtonian and Delawarean.”

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