Black History at Duke Reference collection, 1948 - 2001 and undated

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Duke University. University Archives
The Black History at Duke Reference Collection chronicles the integration of Duke University. This history includes the Silent Vigil; the Allen Building Takeover; the creation of a Black Student Alliance; the development of a Black Studies Program; interactions between the university and the Durham community; as well as individual efforts from students, faculty, and administrators. The collection contains publications, fliers, reports, memos, handbooks, manuals, lists, clippings, and a bibliography. Major subjects include black students, civil rights demonstrations, and the effects of desegregation on administrative policies. English.
1.5 Linear Feet
Collection ID:
University Archives Record Group:
01 -- General Information and University History
01 -- General Information and University History > 11 -- Reference Collections


Scope and content:

The collection contains publications, fliers, reports, memos, handbooks, manuals, lists, clippings, and a bibliography. The collection is divided into six series: The End of Segregation, Black Faculty, Black Studies Program, Student Groups, Public Forums, and Clippings.

The first series, The End of Segregation, includes a bibliography, background materials about desegregation efforts, statistics, reports, and memos. The second series, Black Faculty, includes clippings, and a list of black professors, assistant professors, lecturers, non-tenure track instructors, graduate teaching and research assistants. The appendix to the list includes the Medical School and School of Nursing faculty.

In 1968, there were discussions on campus about establishing a black studies or Afro-American studies program, but no action was taken by the university. One of the demands of the students who took over the Allen Building on Feb. 13, 1969, was for the establishment of a fully accredited department of Afro-American Studies. On May 2, 1969, the Black Studies Committee submitted a proposal to the Undergraduate Faculty Council of the Arts and Sciences for the creation of the Black Studies Program and the courses were approved by the curriculum committee. Walter Burford was named program head in 1970. The third series, Black Studies Program, chronicles some of the history of this program and includes drafts of proposals, enrollment statistics, flyers, photocopies of clippings, and other materials.

The fourth series, Student Groups, contains materials from a variety of groups. Included are: the Afro-American Society, the Association of African Students, the Black Student Alliance, the Black Graduate and Professional Student Association, Black Fraternities and Sororities, and others. The fifth series, Public Forums, includes materials on a number of speakers, rallies, demonstrations, boycotts; one newspaper advertisement; and one Internet site. The sixth series, Clippings, contains mostly photocopies of newspaper articles. The clippings are from 1967-2001 and undated, and cover a wide variety of topics. Of note is a series of articles that appeared in the Chronicle, "Black and Blue: Blacks at Duke," Feb. 13-Feb.17, 1984.

Biographical / historical:

The history of integration at Duke University spans more than one hundred years. In 1896, Trinity College was the first white institution in the South to invite Booker T. Washington to speak on campus. In 1948, students of the Divinity School petitioned for the admission of African Americans to the university. It was only within the last forty years that university policies changed so that black people could become a part of the life of Duke University as students, faculty, and administrators. The Black History at Duke Reference Collection chronicles the events that were part of this change. The following timeline, partially adapted from the book Legacy, 1963-1993: Thirty Years of African-American Students at Duke University, gives a historical overview of some of the events that are documented in this collection.

Date Event
March 8, 1961
The Board of Trustees announced that students would be admitted to the university graduate and professional schools without regard to race, creed, or national origin.
June 2, 1962
The Board of Trustees announced that undergraduate students would be admitted without regard to race.
Sept., 1963
Five black undergraduates entered Duke University as first year students.
Dr. Samuel DuBois Cook became Duke University's first black faculty member.
Three African Americans received their undergraduate degrees, as the first black students to graduate from Duke.
The Afro-American Society was established as the first black student association. Later, the name of the organization was to change first to Association of African Students and then, in 1976, to Black Student Alliance.
April 5-11, 1968
One day after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., hundreds of Duke students gathered in the quad, in a silent vigil, to protest Duke's discriminatory policies .
Oct., 1968
Black students presented the administration with twelve points of concern that included enrollment levels, the low number of black faculty members, and the continuing membership of key university officials in segregated facilities.
Feb. 13, 1969
Sixty members of the Afro-American Society occupied the Allen Building for eight hours and presented the university administration with a list of demands.
A Black Studies Program was instituted at Duke after much discussion and delay. Walter Burford was named program head in 1970.
The Office of Black Affairs was established. Later, its name was changed to Office of Minority Affairs, and, in 1993, to Office of Intercultural Affairs.
The university's first predominantly black fraternity, the Omega Zeta chapter of Omega Psi Phi, was founded.
Sept. 24, 1975
One hundred students protested and presented the administration with grievances and demands for action. Their priorities included departmentalization of the Black Studies Program and increasing the number of black faculty teaching black studies courses.
Sept., 1976
The Association of African Students was renamed the Black Student Alliance.
Nov. 7, 1979
The Black Student Alliance sponsored a Black Solidarity Day rally on campus.
The Mary Lou Williams Center for Black Culture was established.
April 21, 1988
The Academic Council passed a resolution to adopt the Black Faculty Initiative, to mandate the hiring of more black faculty in each dept.
April 21, 1989
Students marched from East to West Campus in support of National Black Student Action Day.
Sept. 26, 1997
Class boycott and Allen Building study-in held to observe "Race Day."
March 19, 2001
An advertisement entitled "Ten Reasons Why Reparations for Slavery is a Bad Idea - And Racist Too" by David Horowitz ran in the Chronicle. Students protested the printing of the advertisement in the student newspaper.
Acquisition information:
The Black History at Duke Reference Collection was created by Duke University Archives staff.
Processing information:

Processed by Linda Daniel

Completed April 2004

Encoded by Linda Daniel, April 2004

Updated by Molly Bragg, August 2011

Rules or conventions:
Describing Archives: A Content Standard


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Collection is open for research.

Terms of access:

Copyright for Official University records is held by Duke University; all other copyright is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.

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Preferred citation:

[Identification of item], Black History at Duke Reference Collection, Duke University Archives, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.