Duke University to Commemorate the 50th Anniversary of Its Racial Integration

Duke University has announced a nine-month university-wide commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the racial integration of its campus. “Celebrating the Past, Charting the Future: Commemorating 50 Years of Black Students at Duke” will begin in January with a reception at the Nasher Museum of Art.

In 1963 five Black students enrolled at Duke. Three went on to graduate. Two members of the “First Five,” Mary Vashtie Mitchell Harris, who graduated from Duke, and Cassandra Smith Rush who dropped out, have died. Gene Kendall dropped out of Duke after his first year when he lost scholarship money. He joined the Navy and then completed college at the University of Kansas.

Gene Kendall, Wilhelmina Reuben-Cooke, and Nathaniel White Jr.

Wilhelmina Reuben-Cooke graduated from Duke and later went on to become a law professor and served as a member of Duke’s board of trustees. Nathaniel White Jr. graduated from Duke and went on to become director of the Public Health Sciences Institute at Morehouse College.

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