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President Richard Brodhead, in an email to the Duke community, wrote that Trustee Emeritus Samuel DuBois Cook had passed.
Cook—who served as a member of the Board of Trustees from 1981 to 1993—was the first African American professor to hold a regular faculty appointment at Duke. In his email, Brodhead noted Cook’s contributions to the University.
“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,” Brodhead wrote. “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.”
Cook—a Korean War veteran who received a bachelor’s degree from Morehouse College, and master’s and PhD degrees from the Ohio State University—previously taught at Southern University, Atlanta University, the University of Illinois and the University of California, Los Angeles prior to joining Duke’s faculty.
In 1974, Cook left Duke to become president of Dillard College, a position which he held until 1997.
Duke established the Samuel DuBois Cook Society in 1997 “to recognize, to celebrate, and to affirm the presence of African American students, faculty, and staff at Duke University.”
Brodhead also mentioned the Samuel DuBois Cook Center on Social Equity—located in the Erwin Square Mill Building near Ninth Street—which “seeks to offer policy solutions addressing inequality and its effects,” according to its website.
According to Brodhead’s email, Cook’s funeral will be held June 6 at 11 a.m. at Morehouse College in Atlanta.
Editor’s Note: This article was updated at 2:20 p.m. to include details on Cook’s life. The headline was corrected at 3:15 p.m.—Cook was 88 when he died, not 89.