More than 33 years after black students staged a takeover of the Allen Building to protest inequality on campus, student leaders are holding a lock-in in the same space tonight in hopes of fostering and promoting a more cohesive Duke community.
Event organizers said the purpose of the lock-in is to increase student, faculty, staff and administration interaction, while reminding participants of the progress made by past campus leaders.
"It's important to remember that the Allen Building takeover was not just a small point in history, but a part of Duke history that affected the entire Duke community," said junior TeMeka Williams, one of the lock-in's organizers. "If we can have that strong cohesive community, we can be an example for the surrounding community."
In February 1969, the 49 black students involved in the takeover demanded an end to harassment by campus police, the creation of an Afro-American Studies Department and an increase in black enrollment. The event was a major turning point in the University's history, as the seemingly apathetic and immovable administration at the time finally began to address student concerns.
Williams said Duke is currently facing similar obstacles, including the development of an Asian-American Studies Department and increased recruitment of black faculty--issues organizers hope to address at the lock-in.
The estimated 13-hour event will begin at 6 p.m. and include workshops, discussion sessions, music, a dance exhibition, a poetry session, pizza and a movie. Williams said interest from students and campus groups is high and that she expects between 30 and 50 students to attend, and about 30 to spend the entire night in the Allen Building. Doors will be locked at midnight and will not open until 7 a.m.
Bertie Howard, Trinity '76, and Dr. Brenda Armstrong, Woman's College '70, are both tentatively scheduled to speak. Howard, current program coordinator in the Office of Institutional Equity and director of the Center for Africa and the Media, was a participant in the original takeover, as was Armstrong, associate professor of pediatric cardiology and dean of admissions at the School of Medicine. Armstrong was head of the Afro-American Society at the time and both were among the five or six women who remained in the Allen Building after many of the younger women, on the insistence of the men involved, left.
"It's an opportunity for enlightenment, and for students to understand that the current condition didn't come without work, and that future conditions will only come with work," said Larry Moneta, vice president for student affairs.
Moneta added that students should be especially interested in hearing the personal stories of those involved with the takeover, like Howard and Armstrong.
"Our goal is to promote communication and interaction that can leave a lasting impression on the students," said junior Sheldon Maye, who will give a presentation on the history of the 1969 takeover.
Tonight's event also comes more than two weeks after the one-year anniversary of The Chronicle's printing of a controversial anti-reparations advertisement by David Horowitz, and four days before Horowitz is expected to speak in Page Auditorium.
Event organizers said the timing is incidental, although a workshop on brainstorming for active changes will include the creation of questions for Horowitz. The Duke Conservative Union, who is sponsoring Horowitz's visit, will also make a presentation at tonight's event.
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