Welcome Freshmen, particularly those assigned to a dorm that honors a racist

✔Welcome to Duke. Your dorm is Aycock, the first on the right.

"....protect the white race, especially the
white women, against the Negro.”

Charles Brantley Aycock
Honored with a Duke dorm

✔Hello FELLOW DUKIES!!!! Fact Checker here.

Dean Christoph Guttentag has the worst job on this campus. Every year he has to say "no" to thousands and thousands of the best and brightest kids.

Two years ago the daughter of an alum whom FC knows tried to gain admission. She -- like almost 800 other high school valedictorians -- was turned down.

She was also among the 42 percent of applicants with math and verbal SAT scores of more than 1,550 who was rejected. Even with her mother's legacy. So she went to Princeton.

You, my new Fellow Dukies, survived and made it here!!

Dean Guttentag also has the best job on campus which he does extraordinarily well, assembling 1700 awesome, diverse candidates each year and bringing them to the front door of the Chapel for Convocation. A few more this year.

✔Welcome! Fact Checker joins in the chorus, welcoming you to Duke and wishing you Godspeed.

What? You don't know about Fact Checker? Well we are a small group of stakeholders in love with Duke. We realize that reasonable people of good faith can disagree, and we just happen to disagree with much of what the current administration does.

Our essays are more than our opinions, however. We hope to inform, engender and enable your participation in the governance of Duke.

In that respect, we have the same goal as President Brodhead, who often declares at Convocation that "I want Duke to be your school: not just the school you attended but the one you helped create." Dean Baker, in today's Chronicle, echoed this.

✔Never one to dally, FC launches the irreverence for the Class of 2014 with a look at a couple of the people generations ago who did just that, helped build the future.

✔First, Angier Buchanan Duke. His name rides on some of our most valuable scholarships, but don't get carried away and think he's some sort of intellectual. He was the family playboy who never really took off his frat pin as he became an adult.

He married in his 30's, his wife in her teens. (The play and Disney film "The Happiest Millionaire" are based upon his courtship.) They had two children and a divorce, allowing Angie to return full-time to a life of cruising in his custom Rolls Royce Phantom and sailing on his own 86 foot yacht.

Mostly he was accident prone, impaling a woman with his car in the city of New York, shooting off one of his arms in a hunting accident in the woods.

One night in 1923 three women and two other men joined him for dinner at a seashore country club in Great Gatsby country. Impatient after bubbly to return to the yacht, which was too big to reach the dock, rather than wait for a launch they stole a dinghy which capsized in Long Island Sound. The five friends scampered to the main deck and had resumed the party when they discovered Angier was missing, just then floating by, his head split open in a collision with a piling.

✔Though you will live on East Campus, you undoubtedly will spend much time in Perkins Library, named for James Buchanan (nickname Buck) Duke's personal lawyer William R. Perkins. Not to be confused with Thomas L. Perkins, his son.

What an odd choice for namesake of a library. I mean, the guy could not write. Witness the document he prepared for Buck to sign to create this university, with its sentences of 230, 233, 240, 268 and 275 words. Sentences, not paragraphs.

There's more, the irony of a lawyer and Trustee who wanted to limit inquiry and stop the beat of our intellectual heart with his name on our library! When some students at the fledgling university tried to invite a harmless speaker to campus -- a third party Presidential candidate -- Perkins blew a gasket.

The target of his ire was Norman Thomas, pacifist, six time standard bearer for the Socialist Party of America.

Luckily we had a president stronger than the bombastic lawyer, and President William Preston Few wrote a letter to straighten him out.

✔Some of our buildings are named for Durham politicians, Carr and Southgate for example. It's hard to imagine that happening nowadays.

✔Which brings us nicely to Aycock Dorm, named in honor of Charles Brantley Aycock, 50th Governor of North Carolina from 1901-1905.

Cheered as the first education governor, the good he did was more than eclipsed by his racism. Violent rabid racism.

He was a terrorist.

On November 10, 1898, Aycock -- a great orator positioning himself for his run for Governor -- backed a mob of 2,000 who marched to city hall in Wilmington and staged a coup d'etat, the only one in American history.

The violent gun-firing mob forced the progressive city government to resign -- whites and blacks together -- and installed their own segregationists. They torched a black newspaper.

According to his biographer Oliver Orr, Jr., Aycock instructed the coup organizers “to wear red shirts or carry guns” and to remember that “they must do these things to protect the white race, especially the white women, against the Negro.”

By days end, Aycock proclaimed the city to be “the center of the white supremacy movement” in North Carolina. Once elected governor, Aycock diligently worked to protect and further entrench segregation in the state, setting the stage for a Dixie stain upon the Democratic Party.

November 10, 1898 in Wilmington: Scores of blacks were killed during the rampage, with some estimates going well over 100.

Late August, 2010: Duke University still honors the memory of Aycock with a dorm.

✔All this was brought to the attention of our campus last spring by two students who wrote a letter to the editor of the Chronicle. They learned of the horrendous crimes of Aycock by accident -- because the Democratic Party in North Carolina stripped his name from its annual fund-raising dinner in Asheville. So far as FC knows, the letter writers did not follow up. And shamefully neither did the Chronicle.

A Deputy Fact Checker was assigned. President Brodhead was sent repeated e-mails about his position on this matter. He never answered one. Not one.

There was no answer either from Duke's spokesman, Michael Schoenfeld, vice president for public relations and obfuscation.

Class of 2014, particularly those moving into Aycock, make this your first contribution to this great university: get this dorm renamed. Promise each other to make this your first mission.

Duke is not unique in facing an issue like this. Two years ago Georgia Tech tore down its Pickrick Cafeteria. The school had acquired the eatery from Lester Maddox, "Mr. White Backlash," who in 1964 chased blacks trying to eat there with a revolver. His son wielded a pickax. Politically active, candidate for Governor, Maddox achieved iconic status in segregation's last stand.

The University of Texas at Austin held a campus dialogue -- and its president took the lead in having the Regents strip the name of William Stewart Simkins from a law school dorm this summer.

Simkins taught law at UT -- continuing as an active and open member of the KKK, promoting the organization in his classes and elsewhere on campus.

Gregory Vincent, vice president, UT: "...the name compromises public trust and the university's reputation... By his own admission, Simkins engaged in violent behavior against African Americans. These were actions taken outside of the law....

Continuing, a building "... named for a founder of the Florida KKK is inconsistent with the core values of this university."

University President William Powers: "An institution like ours is shaped by its history, but it need not be encumbered by it... While reflecting on the past and learning from it, it is important to focus on the future.

"The University of Texas at Austin is now among the most diverse institutions of higher education in the nation, and we will continue to invest in ensuring this is a place of opportunity for young people from all racial, ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds."

Why did Texas act and our President doesn't even respond to e-mail? In Powers, the University of Texas has a leader. In Brodhead, Duke tolerates a mistake.

Thank you for reading Fact Checker. GO DUKE✔

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