Trinity College began as a school for white men. Duke University is now ranked as one of the most diverse higher education institutions in the nation. The transition to a more inclusive space did not occur naturally; rather, people and organizations throughout history have consistently worked welcome all kinds of people in Duke and Durham. Listed below are recognitions of people who, in carving out space for others, deserve a place in our memory.
As Dean of the Women's College from 1924 to 1947, Baldwin worked to give women students the same academic and social opportunities as Trinity College's men. She was the first woman faculty to offer an upper-level course to mixed classes of men and women.
In 1969, Duke's Afro-American Society first published Harambee, a publication meant to foster unity in the Black student body and oppose white supremacy. The name is derived from the Kiswahili word "harambe," which means "pull together."
As the first professionally trained public librarian in North Carolina, Griggs brought book mobiles to underserved and rural areas and helped set up the Durham Colored Library during segregation. When she became Duke's Women's College's first librarian in 1930, Griggs fought to keep books stacks open, as well as created spaces for women students to enjoy literature and the arts.
In 1944 -- ten years before Brown v. Board of Ed. officially reversed segregation policies in the nation -- the Duke School of Medicine's all-white intramural basketball team secretly played with North Carolina College for Negroes' all-Black team.
Despite Duke's current student body diversity, students had to fight for admission of non-white students to the University. The first push for Duke's desegregation came from students from the Divinity School, who circulated a petition in 1948 to enroll Black students as day students. Although the petition had 107 signatures, then-President Edens declined. 11 years later, Divinity School students circulated another petition directly to the Board of Trustees, who also rejected it.
In 1969, Black university students in Durham established the Malcolm X Liberation University, to teach Black history and provide technical training. Students from Duke University and North Carolina Central University participated in this effort.
The apartment-style dormitories on Central Campus will soon be no more at Duke. However, Central housing as long served as spaces where marginalized students, especially African-American students, built community in response to exclusion from social life on West Campus.