Parents stared, confused. Children waffled, ambivalent about what they were about to walk into.
The 25 black men dressed in well-tailored suits, ties and dress shoes was an incongruous sight to families at EastSide Charter School in Wilmington.
The East Side neighborhood is known for its high-crime rate, as well as being the site of multiple shootings. And many of the students that go to EastSide Charter live nearby, either in the neighborhood itself or other parts of Wilmington.
The pre-K to eighth grade school with its grassy courtyard seems like an oasis, surrounded by rundown buildings and empty lots. The streets leading to it are littered with garbage, fast food wrappers and bottles. A mile away is Howard R. Young Correctional Institution.
On Tuesday, the charter kicked off the first day of school with an event called "Suit up. Show up." African-American men were asked to model what success looks like by dressing up professionally and greeting students on their first day of school. Three Wilmington police officers also attended.