On the evening of February 16th, we hosted a launch event for POINT OF RECKONING and below is a video of the portion where I read from the book.
Until the fall of 1963, Duke University was segregated, observing all of the laws, regulations, and customs that defined the Jim Crow south. Duke was a school endowed, designed, and operated by white people for the exclusive benefit of an all-white student body, faculty, and administration. The vast majority of Black people on campus were service workers who were paid barely subsistence wages.
At least theoretically, this could have changed in Fall 1963 when Black undergraduate students first began to matriculate at Duke. But Duke did almost nothing to prepare for the arrival of Black undergraduates. Once these students arrived, Duke’s leaders did not monitor how the new Black students were faring, did not seek to develop personal relationships with them, and never considered the possibility that changes would be required to an all-white institution to accommodate the distinctive cultural, academic, and social needs of its new Black students.
In addition to entering a school unprepared to meet their needs, most Black students encountered racism. Forming the Duke Afro-American Society, they launched a movement to force Duke to confront its segregated racial past, acknowledge their presence, and begin to make changes that would allow both white and Black students at the school to thrive.
During the fall of 1968, university representatives met with members of the Afro-American Society to find a path forward. The purpose of these meetings was to give Black students a chance to lay out their concerns and for the university to respond. This reading describes the outcome of these meetings.