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Lock-in features performances, dialogue

Same building, different purpose.

More than 25 students and faculty listened to stories of 1960s campus activism and discussed the current racial climate at Duke during Friday night's Allen Building lock-in.

The 12-hour event, which included workshops, guest speakers and performances, marked black students' takeover of the main administrative offices to protest racial inequality on campus more than 33 years ago.

Bertie Howard, current program coordinator in the Office of Institutional Equity and featured speaker at the lock-in, recalled her experience leading the 1969 takeover.

"We had a clear set of things that needed to happen to make this campus an equitable place for everyone," said Howard, Trinity '76.

She said the students' decisions during the takeover were at times made on a whim, but at other times were well calculated.

"We brought food and our books in with us," Howard said. "We knew we had to study.... We also took over the room with student records. We figured, if you hurt us, these records go with us."

Although the takeover led to significant changes in the University's stance on black student issues, Howard said the demonstration's most profound effect were upon the University's white students. "It really had more meaning for them, because most had never experienced anything like that," she said.

At midnight, the halfway point of the lock-in, Mary Lou Williams Center for Black Culture Director Leon Dunkley presented a slideshow documenting the World Conference on Racism in Durban, South Africa, which he attended last fall. The presentation sparked debate about the philosophy behind and the logistics of reparations.

Participants also considered how best to forge trust between the various diverse groups on campus and foster a cohesive community in discussing students and employee issues.

"A lot of the segments of the staff have no voice on campus," said Paula Cook, assistant to the chair of the English department. "Students can help give that voice."

Junior Richard McCray, a member of the Student-Employee Relations Committee, agreed, "We as students have a lot of power that we don't even know we have."

The lock-in also included various workshops and icebreakers for participants, a performance by the poetry speak group Local Color, and a question and answer period with senior Ambika Kumar, editor of The Chronicle, and junior Dave Ingram, university editor and editor-elect of The Chronicle.

The Duke Conservative Union, which was expected to make a 20-minute presentation, decided not to attend, citing scheduling conflicts.