Barry Sharoff Papers on the Duke Vigil, 1968-1988
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- Sharoff, Barry
- The Duke Vigil was a peaceful demonstration, sparked by the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., that occurred at Duke University in April 1968. The Vigil involved students, faculty, and non-academic employees of the university and called for racial equality and improved wages for hourly workers. Barry Sharoff organized publicity for the Duke Vigil Strategy Committee. The collection includes fliers, newspapers, press releases, statements, notes, correspondence, and publicly distributed materials regarding the Duke Vigil gathered by Barry Sharoff in his role in charge of publicity for the Vigil, as well as materials related to the 20th anniversary of the Vigil in 1988.
- 1.25 Linear Feet
- Materials in English
- Collection ID:
- University Archives Record Group:
- 30 -- Student and Alumni Papers and Materials
30 -- Student and Alumni Papers and Materials > 01 -- Individuals
- Scope and content:
The collection includes fliers, newspapers, press releases, statements, notes, correspondence, and publicly distributed materials regarding the Duke Vigil gathered by Barry Sharoff in his role in charge of publicity for the Vigil.
Included are a number of fliers for Vigil activities, particularly meetings and boycotts; statements and press releases, including statements from Board of Trustees Chair Wright Tisdale, the general faculty, and the Special Trustee-Administrative Committee, and press releases from campus radio WDBS and the Office of Information Services; Barry Sharoff's notes on publicity and organizing efforts; a list of Vigil participants; newspapers, especially the Chronicle, featuring articles on the Vigil; and materials related to the 20th anniversary of the Duke Vigil, celebrated during the 1988 20th reunion of the Class of 1968.
- Biographical / historical:
Barry Sharoff was a Duke student from 1964-1968. He lwas in charge of publicity for the Duke Vigil along with Reed Kramer. As a part of the Strategy Committee and other groups organizing the Vigil, Sharoff helped organize the distribution of fliers and other materials regarding the Duke Vigil, including activities and background information on the causes and demands of the Vigil.
Barry Sharoff graduated Duke in 1968 with a BA in Political Science. He currently lives in Colorado.
The Duke Vigil: Sparked by the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on April 4, 1968, Duke University students organized a peaceful protest for racial equality that left few students, faculty, administrators or employees unaffected. Up to 1,400 students slept on the Chapel Quad, food services and housekeeping employees went on strike, and most students boycotted the dining halls in support of the employees.
The protest began Friday evening, April 5, when 450 students marched three miles to University President Douglas Knight's House with the following four demands:
• That he sign an advertisement to be published in the Durham Morning Herald calling for a day of mourning;
• That he press for the $1.60 wage for University employees;
• That he resign from the then-segregated Hope Valley Country Club;
• That he appoint a committee of students, faculty and workers to make recommendations concerning collective bargaining and union recognition at Duke.
Knight met the students and faculty members on his front lawn, and began negotiations. Several students spent the night in the president's house at his invitation. Saturday afternoon, Knight attended and spoke at a memorial service for King in Duke Chapel. Following the service, 350 students and faculty marched to Knight's home to support the students still inside the house. Knight promised to release an official statement within 72 hours, but Vice President for Student Affairs William Griffith and Knight's physician William Anlyan told the group the president was about to collapse from exhaustion and could no longer participate in the negotiations.
The Duke Vigil officially began the next morning, Sunday, April 7, as protesters moved onto Chapel Quad. Coordinators demanded strict adherence to a set of rules for the demonstration. In their straight rows of 50 people, the students were not allowed to talk to each other or the press. Rigidly ordered, the quad protest was meant to symbolize the non-violent intentions of the group. By Tuesday night more than 1,400 demonstrators assembled for the Vigil.
On Wednesday, April 10, professor Samuel DuBois Cook addressed the students, and then Wright Tisdale, chair of the Board of Trustees, told the crowd the trustees and students shared the same concerns. He said the University would begin paying a $1.60 minimum wage and mentioned Knight's proposed committee to examine racial concerns. The demonstrators filed into Page Auditorium, where professors read an Academic Council resolution and tried to persuade the students to end the protest since the Board of Trustees had met the major part of their demands. The students agreed to drop their insistence on Knight's Durham Morning Herald advertisement and resignation from Hope Valley Country Club. After midnight on Thursday, April 11, 1968, the students decided to continue their boycott of the dining halls and pledged to support the workers' union, Local 77.
Members of the Duke Vigil Strategy Committee continued to organize activities after the official end of the Vigil. Seminars were held on the main quad (now Abele Quad) April 18-21, and another boycott of university dining halls was called for May 10.
[Portions of this text from 'Profound History': Students answered violence with the Silent Vigil by Laura Trivers, published in The Chronicle, April 4, 1988.]
- Acquisition information:
- The Barry Sharoff Papers on the Duke Vigil were received by the University Archives as a gift in 2017.
- Processing information:
Processed by Tracy M. Jackson, March, 2017 Accessions described in this collection guide: UA2017.0006
- Rules or conventions:
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Click on terms below to find related finding aids on this site. For other related materials in the Duke University Libraries, search for these terms in the Catalog.
- Civil rights demonstrations
Collective bargaining -- College employees -- North Carolina -- Durham
Students -- Political activity
Student movements -- North Carolina
Student participation in administration
Wages -- College employees -- North Carolina -- Durham
Publicity -- North Carolina -- Durham
- Duke University--Administration
Duke University. Presidents
Duke University -- Students -- Political activity
WDBS (Radio station : Durham, N.C.)
Cook, Samuel DuBois, 1927-
Knight, Douglas M., 1921-2005
King, Martin Luther, Jr., 1929-1968 -- Assassination
Strange, John Hadley, 1938-
- Durham (N.C.) -- Race relations
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[Identification of item], Barry Sharoff Papers on the Duke Vigil, Duke University Archives, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.