During the 50th Anniversary Commemoration, from January until now, we have unearthed historical moments that tell a rich, vivid story of Duke’s past. We’ve learned about Duke’s first black mascot, and we’ve heard testimonies from the leaders of Duke’s infamous Allen Building Takeover. And on Saturday, the commemoration officially ended with the presentation of a one million dollar check. The commemoration inspired black alumni and current students to give in record numbers. As President Brodhead explained in his address on Saturday, during this period we have reclaimed and recovered black alumni who experienced tremendous hardships at Duke.
As a participant in this commemoration, I was overtaken with pride to meet the black alumni who toiled incessantly so that my Duke experience would be positive. And as the president of Duke’s Black Student Alliance, I was reinvigorated and more determined than ever to continue the legacy of activism that begin in 1963.
For fifty years, black students have been on a constant campaign to make Duke a better place, challenging the University to make necessary changes. As we enter this post-commemoration period, the Black Student Alliance issues Duke another challenge. We challenge the Duke community to avoid becoming comfortable and complacent regarding matters of diversity and to resist the temptation to rest on its laurels. We have more to accomplish.
In areas like the recruitment and retention of black faculty membes, we still have work to do. We still have advances to make in the area of campus equity. In recent years, some black students have been asked to present their DukeCard before being allowed to use the van service, and black social events are routinely shut down by the Duke University Police Department. In terms of development, we have yet to fully endow the Reginaldo Howard Memorial Scholarship. We are poised to make considerable improvements in these areas. We still have work to do.
In 50 years we’ve moved Duke forward...and we don’t plan on stopping any time soon. The commemoration events may be over, but the commemoration will never end.
President of the Black Student Alliance