✔✔✔✔✔ For generations, the Duke Law School student with the highest academic average received the Willis Smith Award at graduation.
No more. The faculty has terminated the award following a determined campaign by a small number of alumni. This was done quietly, with no announcement, proving the need for Fact Checker to keep us all informed.
Smith had all the credentials for his name to be carried on the award that he and his family endowed: Duke degrees in 1910 and 1912, founder of a major Raleigh law firm that flourishes to this day, president of the American Bar Association, chair of Duke's Trustees, and United States Senator.
FC will give you a hint of where this is going. Today, 58 years after his death, his firm, Smith Anderson, has 73 white partners and about 50 white associates. A year ago at this time, there was one black female associate, but she failed the bar exam repeatedly and was dismissed. The Smith firm then hired two black male associates who had just graduated from law school.
The law firm is a white bastion, but at least a quiet, respectful one. It was Willis Smith's loud campaign for the United States senate that did him in at Duke Law.
Engineered by the late Jesse Helms (yes THE Jesse Helms), Smith went forth under the slogan, "White People Wake Up!" We'll give you some details from a campaign poster:
White People!! Do you want?
* Negroes working beside you, your wife and daughters in your mills and factories?
* Negroes eating beside you in all public eating places?
* Negroes riding beside you, your wife and your daughters in buses, cabs and trains?
* Negroes sleeping in the same hotels and rooming houses?
* Negroes teaching and disciplining your children in school?
* Negroes sitting with you and your family at all public meetings?
* Negroes Going to white schools and white children going to Negro schools?
* Negroes to occupy the same hospital rooms with you and your wife and daughters?
* Negroes as your foremen and overseers in the mills?
* Negroes using your toilet facilities?
Despite this, the alumni active in getting the award zapped found it difficult to get the Dean of the Law School to move and submit the issue to the faculty. Now Duke is discussing with Smith's family what to do with the money that supported the award.
✔✔✔There are many memorials to racists that remain at Duke. Some may shock you.
Edens Quad is named for a president who, as North Carolina and the South wrestled with ending segregation, did nothing. Nothing, neither pro nor con. Finally Hollis Edens did reveal himself, cracking down when drama students invited their counterparts from North Carolina Central to a performance in Page. Edens said this would be impossible -- because there were no rest rooms that Negroes (contemporaneous term) could use in or around Page.
One day in his office, Edens entertained a back-slapping politician and trustee, Amos Kearns. Edens noted the Divinity School dean had just forwarded an application from a Negro, and when Kearns looked over Edens' shoulder, he recognized the name.
This same guy had dared to seek a permit to fish at a whites-only pond in a state park. Whereupon Amos Kearns suggested Duke and the state join in establishing a secret list of troublemakers. The Divinity School remembers good old Amos today with the Amos Kearns Professorship. This has had varying focus over the years, the professor of Christian ethics and professor of the Bible.
✔✔✔✔✔ And then there is Aycock Dorm. The Fact Checker organization is going to rumble on this in the new school year. Big time rumble.
We have written President Brodhead four times about this, never receiving any reply whatsoever. A student leader was in his office recently to discuss another issue; she tried raising Aycock, and he waived her off saying he would not discuss it.
Mr. Brodhead, your ducking, your lack of leadership is no longer acceptable.
"....protect the white race,
especially the white women,
against the Negro.”
Charles Brantley Aycock
Aycock was North Carolina's 50th governor, 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 -- egged on a mob of 2,000 who marched to city hall in Wilmington and staged a coup d'etat, perhaps the only one in American history.
The gun-firing mob forced the progressive city government to resign -- whites and blacks together -- and installed their own segregationists. The mob torched a black newspaper.
According to his biographer Oliver Orr, Jr., Aycock advised the coup planners “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 day's 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.
Commencement 2011: Duke University still honors the memory of Aycock with his name on a freshman dorm.
✔The Aycock situation was brought to the attention of our campus two years ago 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.
Duke is not unique in facing an issue like this. Three 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, which became widely known as a symbol. Politically active, candidate for Governor, Maddox achieved iconic status in segregation's last stand.
Another example: The University of Texas at Austin had a long dialogue and its president led the Regents in stripping the name of William Stewart Simkins from a law school dorm.
Simkins taught law at UT -- continuing as an active and open member of the KKK, promoting the organization in his classes and around the law school.
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."
Mr. Brodhead, consider those words a template for what you must say
Thank you for reading Fact Checker.
✔✔✔✔✔ We are pleased to report record readership for our latest essay on the folly of Kunshan, revealing the consultant's report that Brodhead won't let you read. We had 1100 hits in the first 24 hours. (In addition to hits on our own website, many people access Fact Checker through the Chronicle's discussion boards) And so far 161 Dukies have requested the text of the report that Brodhead wishes were kept secret.