divinity school pushes for desegregation
By Mumbi Kanyogo
The Duke Divinity School was the first school at Duke to demand desegregation. In 1948, 170 students signed a petition demanding that black students be enrolled as day students. 170 students signed the petition and presented it to the Dean at the time, Harold Bosley in May 1948. Dean Bosley later asked President Edens to consider the admission of black students. Edens declined, claiming that neither “the interests of either the negro race or of Duke university” would be served by raising the question of desegregation. Edens had a history of opposition to integration, clear in his position on Duke’s Law School, where he argued that segregation had no negative impact. In 1959, Divinity School students circulated another petition directly to the Board of Trustees, which rejected it. Universities like Yale as well as important Protestant congregations condemned the decision as an act that would only serve to “hurt the university’s position in the academic world”.