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Samuel DuBois Cook

Retired Dillard University president and the first African American professor at Duke University, Samuel DuBois Cook, was born on November 21, 1928, in Griffin, Georgia. Cook’s parents were Mary Beatrice Daniel Cook and the Reverend M.E. Cook, a Baptist minister who instilled a passion for education in all of his children; this upbringing had a deep impact on Cook. Cook was given his middle name in honor of former Morehouse College president Dr. Charles DuBois Hubert. Cook attended Griffin Vocational High School and graduated from there in 1944; he went on to earn an A.B. degree in history from Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia, where he met and was mentored by Dr. Benjamin Mays. Cook then attended Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio, where he earned his M.A. degree in political science and his Ph.D. in 1954.

Cook started his professional career as a teacher after a short stint in the U.S. Army; he taught political science at Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in 1955. Cook then moved to Atlanta University where he began teaching in 1956, and became politically active. Cook worked on black voter registration and served as youth director of the NAACP of Georgia. During his career, Cook taught at other colleges and universities including the University of Illinois, University of California – Los Angeles, and Duke University, where he became the University’s first African American professor. Cook was also the first African American to hold a regular faculty appointment at a predominantly white university in the South. In 1974, Cook was chosen as president of Dillard University; he filled this role for twenty-two years, retiring in 1997. Cook was credited with beginning the modernization of Dillard University’s infrastructure.

In 1993, Dillard University honored Cook by naming the school’s new fine arts and communication center after him. That same year, Cook was elected by Duke University’s Board of Trustee as a Trustee Emeritus. Duke University again honored Cook with the establishment of the Samuel DuBois Cook Society 1997; the society aims to celebrate and support African American students at the university through programming and scholarships. In 2006, Duke University established a postdoctoral fellowship in Cook’s name to support social scientists that study issues related to race, ethnicity, and gender. In 2015, Duke dedicated the Samuel DuBois Cook Center on Social Equity in his honor. Though retired, Cook remained a visiting scholar and lecturer at universities around the United States.

Cook passed away on May 30, 2017 at the age of 88.

Accession Number

A2005.139

Sex

Male

Interview Date

6/20/2005 |and| 12/8/2005

Last Name

Cook

Maker Category
Middle Name

DuBois

Schools

Griffin Vocational High School

The Ohio State University

Cabin Creek School

Spring Hill School

Morehouse College

First Name

Samuel

Birth City, State, Country

Griffin

HM ID

COO08

Favorite Season

Fall, Spring

State

Georgia

Favorite Vacation Destination

Cruises

Favorite Quote

Aim High, Reach For The Stars, Burn The Midnight Oil, And Give Life Your Best Shot.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Georgia

Interview Description
Birth Date

11/21/1928

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Atlanta

Country

USA

Favorite Food

None

Death Date

5/30/2017

Short Description

Political science professor and university president Samuel DuBois Cook (1928 - 2017 ) was the president of Dillard University, and the first African American professor at Duke University.

Employment

Southern University

Atlanta University

Dillard University

Duke University

Favorite Color

Black, Brown, White

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Samuel DuBois Cook's interview, session 1

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Samuel DuBois Cook lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Samuel DuBois Cook describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Samuel DuBois Cook describes his mother

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Samuel DuBois Cook describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Samuel DuBois Cook describes his father's commitment to education

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Samuel DuBois Cook remembers the strict Baptist ban on dancing

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Samuel DuBois Cook remembers the strict Christianity of Griffin, Georgia

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Samuel DuBois Cook describes his immediate family

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Samuel DuBois Cook describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Samuel DuBois Cook recalls an early experience with racism, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Samuel DuBois Cook recalls an early experience with racism, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Samuel DuBois Cook recalls his father's warning not to work for whites

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Samuel DuBois Cook remembers his education as a child

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Samuel DuBois Cook remembers the notable figures of Cabin Creek School in Griffin, Georgia

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Samuel DuBois Cook remembers the closure of Cabin Creek School

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Samuel DuBois Cook recalls a financial barrier at Spring Hill School in Griffin, Georgia

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Samuel DuBois Cook remembers his influential teacher, George Mosby [ph.]

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Samuel DuBois Cook remembers attending Griffin Vocational High School

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Samuel DuBois Cook recalls the students at his high school who attended college

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Samuel DuBois Cook remembers deciding to attend Morehouse College

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Samuel DuBois Cook recalls meeting Dr. Benjamin E. Mays

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Samuel DuBois Cook recounts memories of Dr. Benjamin E. Mays

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Samuel DuBois Cook recalls seeing Dr. Benjamin E. Mays at The Ohio State University

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Samuel DuBois Cook recalls being elected student body president of Atlanta's Morehouse College

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Samuel DuBois Cook describes his classmates Bob Johnson and HistoryMaker Lerone Bennett

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Samuel DuBois Cook recalls his classmate Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Samuel DuBois Cook describes his academics at Atlanta's Morehouse College

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Samuel DuBois Cook recalls his time at Columbus' The Ohio State University

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Samuel DuBois Cook remembers the Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka decision

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Samuel DuBois Cook describes his political science dissertation

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Samuel DuBois Cook describes black academics' experience of racial discrimination in the 1950s

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Samuel DuBois Cook recalls great thinkers at Baton Rouge's Southern University, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Samuel DuBois Cook recalls great thinkers at Baton Rouge's Southern University, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Samuel DuBois Cook recalls his political involvement in Atlanta, Georgia in the 1950s

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Samuel DuBois Cook recalls Atlanta's civil rights activists

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Samuel DuBois Cook recalls his relationship with Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Samuel DuBois Cook describes the spontaneity of the Civil Rights Movement, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Samuel DuBois Cook remembers the spontaneity of the Civil Rights Movement, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Samuel DuBois Cook recalls teaching American government when the Civil Rights Act of 1964 passed

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Samuel DuBois Cook explains the necessity of legal action in the fight for civil rights

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Samuel DuBois Cook talks about Dixiecrats in the Democratic Party

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Slating of Samuel DuBois Cook's interview, session 2

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Samuel DuBois Cook describes civil rights activism on Atlanta's college campuses

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Samuel DuBois Cook remembers notable figures of the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Samuel DuBois Cook explains racism's relationship to religion

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Samuel DuBois Cook describes W.E.B. Dubois' legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Samuel DuBois Cook describes his academic focus

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Samuel DuBois Cook remembers becoming a professor at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Samuel DuBois Cook recalls being welcomed at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Samuel DuBois Cook reflects upon his stance on the Vietnam War

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Samuel DuBois Cook describes the classes he taught at Duke University

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Samuel DuBois Cook reflects on Lyndon Baines Johnson's presidency

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Samuel DuBois Cook recalls Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Samuel DuBois Cook recalls Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination, pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Samuel DuBois Cook recalls being honored by Duke University

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Samuel DuBois Cook remembers becoming president of New Orleans' Dillard University

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Samuel DuBois Cook remembers emulating Dr. Benjamin E. Mays as Dillard University president, pt. 1

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Samuel DuBois Cook remembers emulating Dr. Benjamin E. Mays as Dillard University president, pt. 2

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Samuel DuBois Cook describes aspects of his Dillard University presidency

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Samuel DuBois Cook describes the highlights of his Dillard University presidency

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Samuel DuBois Cook remembers his most outstanding students

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Samuel DuBois Cook describes his activities after retirement

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Samuel DuBois Cook describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community today

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Samuel DuBois Cook reflects on his life

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Samuel DuBois Cook describes his legacy

Tape: 8 Story: 9 - Samuel DuBois Cook describes his wife and children

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Samuel DuBois Cook describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Samuel DuBois Cook reflects on his successes and perseverance

DASession

1$2

DATape

3$7

DAStory

7$7

DATitle
Samuel DuBois Cook recalls meeting Dr. Benjamin E. Mays
Samuel DuBois Cook remembers becoming president of New Orleans' Dillard University
Transcript
So (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) And after having Dr. [Benjamin] Mays, you know, I was going to Morehouse [College, Atlanta, Georgia].$$Describe meeting Dr. Mays. How did you meet him and what were the circumstances?$$Now, that I can answer. On the tobacco farm. And it would have a Morehouse faculty and so forth there as supervisors and they would come up. Every summer, Dr. [B.R.] Brazeal who at that time was dean, whose daughter [Aurelia E. Brazeal] is now an ambassador to Ethiopia and so forth. (Unclear) B.R. Brazeal, distinguished economist who got a Ph.D. from Columbia University [New York, New York]. He would always come up in the summer and make a tour of all the tobacco farms that I mentioned and some that I didn't mention to see if everything was all right, and you know he was the kind of diplomat in residence temporarily. Dr. Mays would also come up to visit, so he came up to--I was at Hartman Brothers [sic. Hartman Tobacco Company] in Hazardville, Connecticut and Dr. Mays came up to visit the--his students and so forth and watch, and Dr. Mays was a great competitor, he jumped out there and was picking tobacco and so forth, but to Dr. Mays--I said and he spoke to us and I remember to this day the kind of suit and he became, not only my mentor, and when I came back to Atlanta University [Clark Atlanta University, Atlanta, Georgia] to teach, but a good friend. I, I came, I was very close to him. In fact, I guess the biggest honor in my life and the most difficult task I've ever been assigned was he asked me to deliver the eulogy when he died and so forth. And when he wrote his book, 'Born to Rebel: [An Autobiography,' Benjamin E. Mays] he asked me to write the introduction and so forth. So he became just my idol, and that's why I said I think about him you know quite often. And, but I remember the suit Dr. Mays had on when, when I met him and he was going down into tobacco farm with that fine suit and so forth. But that's how I met Dr. Mays on the tobacco farm, and there's a famous pediatrician here, a Morehouse grad, Dr. Otis W. Smith. You might have interviewed him along with Dr. Clinton W. Warner [sic. HistoryMaker Clinton Warner]. And one summer, Dr. Smith and I were asked to stay on the tobacco farm two extra weeks--after all the other guys had gone, some two hundred or more had left, and we stayed there and took care of the farm, closed everything down. We were just glad for the opportunity, stay there and made some extra money and so forth. Now, he's a wealthy physician, millionaire, and he retired and, and so forth. But that's story amazing and about how I met Dr. Mays (unclear).$$Okay.$$And we became very (unclear) very good friends and when I came to Atlanta University to teach in 1956, he was in Hughes Hall, his office was down that way, mine was over here and Dr. Clements [Dr. Rufus E. Clement] was over there so, and we developed this, you know, and I saw him all the time.$Well, getting back to--now in 1974 now what happened, is this when you went to Dillard [University, New Orleans, Louisiana]?$$Yeah, 1974 is when I made the most difficult decision in my life to leave Duke [University, Durham, North Carolina] because I had planned to retire there. We had a wonderful home and we had wonderful friends and all of that, but I had to--and when Duke, not Duke, when Dillard inquired about my interests, I said, "No." I wasn't interested. They called me back in two or three months and I said, "I'm not interested. I'm committed to teaching," which is true. You know I always felt that teaching is so much more divine, and Morris R. Cohen said, than administration. I wasn't interested in being anyone's administrator (unclear). So what I didn't know was that my saying no to them accentuated their interest in, in me. They said we want someone who is not seeking the position and doesn't want it and so forth. So that is when on for some eight months and so forth before I considered even talking to them about it, and then seeing the thing and all that. Then finally talked to me about it at Duke and I was impressed, but then I went on that campus, beautiful campus and the you know the sadness now of [Hurricane] Katrina and how it destroyed, devastated the campus and I'm told, I haven't seen it. But one morning, you know they had a great architecture and beautiful greening campus. I went on that campus--and a beautiful day really--and I got a flashback of Dr. [Benjamin] Mays, Benjamin Elijah Mays, my great mentor at Morehouse [College, Atlanta, Georgia], I saw him on that campus at Morehouse, dashing from his office, from his home to his office it hurt, and I said to me, "You know, I said if I can do one-tenth for the students at Dillard that Dr. Mays did for us at Morehouse then I know that my living will not be in vain," and that changed my mind on it. When I got back to Atlanta [Georgia], I told Dr. Mays, I said, "Dr. Mays, you tricked me." He said, "What happened? You talking differently now than you talked back then." I said, "You tricked me," I said, "That flashback." And it's true. When I saw that flashback of Dr. Mays walking on the Morehouse campus, that's when I said, "Yes, sir," you know, "if you elect me president, I'll accept."