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What I hope to learn from Vigil organizers

(04/13/18 3:56am)

When Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, I was in Chicago. My then-husband, Harry Boyte (’67), had hurried home from the west side of Chicago, where bricks had begun to fly and fires to burn. We watched the National Guard marching through the streets. And then my younger brother Bob called: “Guess where I am?” A sophomore at Duke, he’d joined the Vigil in support of Local 77, the union trying to organize the predominantly black, non-academic workers at the university. Bob had managed to find his way to a pay phone near the quad to call and tell me. He knew that while I was an undergraduate and graduate student at Duke, I’d worked for several years with the union along with Harry and other student members of what we called the “liberal action committee.” We’d attended meetings, organized student support, and visited in homes until the summer of 1967, when Harry and I moved to Chicago. It just killed me not to be on the quad for that climactic event.