A New Oral History of Black Alumni at Four Educational Institutions in the Carolinas

Duke University Chapel will collect and publish stories of Black alumni at four universities in North and South Carolina.

The “Counting It All Joy!” initiative aims to better understand and to make more visible the narratives of Black people who have attended Davidson College, Duke University, Furman University, and Johnson C. Smith University between 1990 and 2020. All four are private, liberal arts schools that receive support from the Duke Endowment.

“We have an opportunity to learn from people who have shaped this university and others in North and South Carolina,” said the Rev. Luke A. Powery, dean of Duke Chapel. “By lifting up Black alumni voices from the past three decades, we want to learn through first-person narratives, stories of resilience, pride, pain, faith, hope, and love for themselves, their families, and communities.”

Keith Daniel, a special programs instructor at Duke and an alumnus of Trinity College and Duke Divinity School, is leading the team of researchers who will conduct the interviews and compile edited narratives for publication.

“The time is ripe to listen to Black alumni from these schools to affirm their truths, to honor their pain, and to be inspired by their resilience,” Dr. Daniel said. “Identifying and amplifying these stories should help us recognize how the resilience of Black lives has contributed to moving our institutions from good to greater — and where we still need to grow.”

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