Dr. Samuel DuBois Cook, in memoriam
We were sad to learn of the passing of Samuel DuBois Cook, professor of political science at Duke from 1966 to 1975. We express our heartfelt condolences to his family and friends.
"After a short stint in the U.S. Army in 1955, Cook taught political science at Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Then, in 1956, he moved to Atlanta University and became politically active working on black voter registration with the local NAACP chapter. As chair of the school's political science department in the early 1960s, Cook moderated forums that involved emerging civil rights leaders such as Martin Luther King, Jr., along with a younger generation of student activists."1
"Cook was on the Duke faculty at a challenging time on campus and in the country. In 1969, when students in the Afro-American Society occupied the Allen Building to push for improved conditions for black students and staff, Cook, along with other faculty, played a key role in mediating the situation."2
"In 1966, Cook was appointed a professor in the Duke University political science department. Nine years later, Cook was chosen to serve as president of Dillard University, a historically black liberal arts institution in New Orleans. He served as president for 22 years, retiring in 1997."3
"Dr. Cook was the first black president of the Southern Political Science Association and also served as the vice-president of the American Political Science Association. He has been president of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, Inc., and chair of the Presidents of the United Negro College Fund. In 1997, Duke University, where he was a Trustee Emeritus, established the Samuel DuBois Cook Society, and in 2006, Duke established a new postdoctoral fellowship in his honor in its Center for the Study of Race, Ethnicity and Gender in the Social Sciences."4
I write to share the sad news of the death of Samuel DuBois Cook, a devoted member of the Duke community who had a special place in Duke’s history. Dr. Cook joined the Duke faculty in 1966, becoming the first black faculty member at the newly integrated university and the first tenured black faculty member at any predominantly white institution in the historically segregated South. A scholar of political science who was intimately involved with the leadership of the Civil Rights Movement, he was the bearer of the vision of the beloved community and, throughout his life, worked for a society based on inclusion, reconciliation, and mutual respect for all. After he completed his faculty appointment, he served as a trustee of Duke University from 1981 to 1993. Thereafter, he was a nearly annual visitor to the Samuel DuBois Cook Society dinner, at which Duke pays tribute to the values he exemplified so powerfully. His intellectual work is honored and continued in Duke's Samuel DuBois Cook Center on Social Equity. His funeral will be held at Morehouse College in Atlanta on Tuesday, June 6, at 11 a.m. We extend our deepest condolences to his wife and family and express our gratitude for all he did for Duke.
- Richard Brodhead, President