I’ve been waiting a long time for the year 2013 to finally arrive. It is a significant year because it marks the year I will graduate from Duke University after four years of hard work and amazing memories. However, now that 2013 has finally arrived, it is not just my graduation that is on my mind but also a milestone in Duke’s history. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the first incoming class to include black students.
A little bit of history…
In 1961 Duke University was like many other schools of the time. There were no black students or faculty at the university and there were even some entrances designated for “coloreds.” However, that year Duke decided to make a change. In March of 1961 the Board of Trustees voted to desegregate the graduate and professional school. In 1962 the first students enrolled in Duke’s graduate schools, and in 1963 the first black students enrolled as undergraduates at Duke University.
Remembering the past…
This year Duke will be holding a nine month long commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the first black undergrads to matriculate that will include a series of events and an exhibition posted online. The celebration will end in October on Founder’s Day Weekend. For me, this celebration is more than just a celebration of history. This celebration shows not only an acknowledgement of the past but also a dedication to Duke’s black community and their impact on Duke’s campus. I’m excited to attend many of these events and learn more about the history of black students at Duke. Even more importantly I am excited that this commemoration hasn’t just been heralded as “black history at Duke” but as simply an important aspect of Duke history. We’ve come so far from a time of segregation to a the time when our story can just become “history” and not necessarily “black history.” I’m look forward to seeing the great strides Duke will make in the next fifty years.
( Click here to learn more about the year long celebration).
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