A Note From the Editors

Dear Readers,

Born into a prominent family in Philadelphia and a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, it appears as though Julian Abele lived an ordinary life. But something remarkable lies underneath Abele’s facade—and it’s not just that he rose to become a prominent architect at Horace Trumbauer’s firm in Philadelphia. Nor was it just his accomplishments; Abele went on to design prominent buildings in his hometown, including the Philadelphia Museum of Art, before becoming the chief designer of Duke’s campuses as Trinity College transitioned into a university. What was perhaps most remarkable about Abele was that he was not able to sign his name on architectural designs he crafted until after Trumbauer’s death; that he was deterred from visiting Duke’s campus, though it was his masterpiece; and that he proceeded through life “living in the shadows,” as he wrote himself. And hidden he was—it wasn’t until 1986 when the Duke community came to realize the secret behind the campus’ visionary: that Abele was black.

Abele’s story is both a reminder of how far Duke has come in its brief history and an indication of just how little our campus seems to know about itself. As the University uses 2013 to celebrate the 50th year of black student matriculation at Duke, one should remember that Abele’s history was revealed shortly before the University celebrated the 30th anniversary of integration. This fact is a reminder that public displays of commemoration may not mean that we have truly re-written the upsetting narratives buried within our institutional memory.

At the time of this writing, “progress”—or lack thereof—has re-entered Duke campus dialogue with full force. Recent allegations about Duke have been controversial, to say the least—ranging from heavily attended protests of an alleged “racist rager” to accusations that Cameron Crazies chanted an insensitive remark at an N.C. State player. The latter claim ended up being falsified, but the former is a testament to the fact that “progress” is not necessarily something that can be categorically hallmarked, no matter what side of the issue you take. As we continue to engage in debate on the campus that Abele designed for us decades ago, we should be reminded that such controversial events are positives in the way that they force us to shed light on our institutional “shadows.”

In addition to looking at the issues black students at Duke have championed—and still struggle with—50 years after integration, we seek to take our readers on a tour of those aspects of this campus and community that may go unnoticed. We take you to a recording studio hidden in the Bryan Center, to a music theme park tucked under the graffiti’d staircase that leads up to Cosmic Cantina, to a gun school in Sanford, North Carolina and to regional independent bookstores currently coping with the e-book revolution. We hope this issue speaks to Duke’s multi-directional evolution since 1963 and serves as a reminder of the reason why most of us are here—that there’s still a lot we don’t know.


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