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Duke Flags Lowered: Samuel Dubois Cook, Duke’s First Black Faculty Member, Dies

Samuel Dubois Cook

Dr. Samuel DuBois Cook, a symbol and expression of the active quest for social justice and equality at Duke University, died on Monday (May 29). He was 88.

Dr. Cook has a distinguished record as a political scientist, scholar, educator, author, teacher, administrator, civil and human rights activist and public servant. A native of Griffin, Ga., he received a A.B. degree from Morehouse College and M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from The Ohio State University.

He has taught at Southern University, Atlanta University, the University of Illinois, UCLA and Duke University, where in 1966, he became the first African-American to hold a regular and/or tenured faculty appointment at a predominantly white southern college or university.

After he completed his faculty appointment, he served as a trustee of Duke University from 1981 to 1993. In 1997, Duke University, where he is a Trustee Emeritus, established the Samuel DuBois Cook Society. 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. The Ohio State University has established the Samuel DuBois Cook Summer Academy and the Samuel DuBois Cook graduate fellowship in Political Science.

He served 22 and a half years as president of Dillard University in New Orleans, La. Upon his retirement in 1997, the Dillard board of trustees elected Dr. Cook President Emeritus. While at Dillard, Dr. Cook established a National Center for Black-Jewish Relations, the only one of its kind.

A member of Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society, Dr. Cook is a Korean War veteran and a former ordained deacon at White Rock Baptist Church in Durham, NC. He holds honorary degrees from Morehouse College, The Ohio State University, Dillard University, Illinois College, Duke University, the University of New Orleans and Chicago Theological Seminary. At Morehouse, Dr. Cook joined the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity and was also an active member of the fraternity at Atlanta University.

Samuel Dubois Cook
Samuel Dubois Cook with his family.

President Jimmy Carter appointed Dr. Cook to the prestigious National Council on the Humanities and President Bill Clinton appointed him to the historic United States Holocaust Memorial Council.

Dr. Cook is the author or editor of numerous scholarly publications, including Black-Jewish Relations: Dillard University National Conference Papers, 1989-1997. His most recent publication is Benjamin E. Mays: His Life, Contributions, and Legacy, written about the inspirational and pioneering former president of Morehouse College.

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.

Dr. Cook and his wife, Mrs. Sylvia F. Cook, have been married for over 50 years, and are the parents of Samuel DuBois Cook, Jr. and Karen J. Cook and grandparents to Alexandra Renee Cook and Samuel DuBois Cook, III. They are members of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta.

His funeral service will be held at 11 am Tuesday, June 6, at Morehouse College in Atlanta.

Photo (top): Samuel Dubois Cook and John Hope Franklin at a Cook Society dinner. (Courtesy of Duke University)


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Phyllis Coley
Phyllis D. Coley is CEO/Publisher of Spectacular Magazine and Host of Spectacular Magazine Radio Show. With a B.A. in English from NCCU, the Durham native began her professional career as Promotions/Marketing Director for New York City’s WKTU-FM. While at the radio station, Coley discovered the rap group Kid ‘n Play and managed them for five years, guiding their music and movie careers to success. Moving back to Durham, Coley produced a nationally syndicated television show, The Electric Factory, while working as News Director for FOXY 107/104. In April 2002, recognizing a void in highlighting the achievements of African Americans, she started her own business publishing ACE Magazine. Coley launched Spectacular Magazine in November 2004. Recognizing the lack of pertinent and truthful information, Coley began Spectacular Magazine Radio Show in March 2009. Coley is the organizer of Durham's Annual MLK/Black History Month Parade and the Annual North Carolina Juneteenth Celebration. She currently serves on Central Children’s Home Board of Directors, Raleigh Chamber of Commerce’s Board of Advisors, as Immediate Past Secretary of the Durham Rotary Club Board of Directors and is one of the founding members of the Triangle United Way’s African American Leadership Initiative.

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