Duke Celebrates the Past and the Future During Black History Month

Art historian Richard Powell and physics professor Calvin Howell share ideas in a Trinity College video marking the 50th anniversary of black faculty at Duke.

From the Nasher Museum of Art showcasing its extensive collection of African-American art, to special meals at Duke Dining, opportunities to celebrate Black History Month during February on campus are abundant.

In late February, Duke University Library will launch a new exhibit of videos, photos, letters and other material from the archives of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, which played a fundamental role in the Civil Rights movement. Other events will focus on black history at Duke, including a continuation of last year's commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Samuel Dubois Cook's arrival at Duke as its first African-American faculty member. Trinity College Dean Valerie Ashby spent the year promoting the anniversary in part to highlight the vibrant collection of current black faculty at the college.

As part of that effort, the college sponsored a collection of videos of African-American faculty talking across departments about their work and experiences on campus. Below, Graduate School Dean Paula McClain and Professor Lee Baker discuss how their academic careers put them on a path toward academic administration

In this video, the mother-daughter faculty pairing of Karla Holloway and Ayana Arce discuss black faculty across generations.

The tribute also provides a moment to remember Cook, who died this past May at age 88 after a career as a pioneer both in higher education leadership and scholarship and in civil rights activisms. When he arrived at Duke in 1966, the political scientist became the first first African-American to hold a regular and/or tenured faculty appointment at a predominantly white Southern college or university.

This past October, a bipartisan group of Senators introduced a Senate resolution honoring Cook for his six-decade career in higher education.  A month later another Duke University figure important to black history was commemorated by the state of North Carolina when a section of I-85 in Durham was named after historian John Hope Franklin.

This month, the Duke Department of African and African-American Studies also is posting a playlist of videos showcasing their faculty's scholarship, mentorship and teaching at the university. Below, Professor Tsitsi Jaji discusses her research comparing African-American writers with those in the Caribbean and black writers from around the world. The full playlist of videos can be found here.

Below is a collection of Black History Month events posted by Duke's Mary Lou Williams Center. (Click on the calendar image for a larger version)

Black History Month events