Today, U.S. Senator Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) co-introduced a resolution honoring the life and achievements of Dr. Samuel DuBois Cook (1928 - 2017), who was the first African American to hold either a regular or tenured faculty appointment at a predominantly white southern college or university, and who passed away this year at the age of 88. Joining Senator Tillis were Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), and John Kennedy (R-La.)
"Dr. Cook was an education pioneer who paved the way for more diversity among academic leaders at our nation's colleges and universities," said Senator Tillis. "North Carolina owes him a debt of gratitude for his vast contributions to Duke University, and I am honored to support this resolution that commemorates his life and many accomplishments."
"Dr. Cook was a leader in education and social justice. He helped open doors for educators of different backgrounds to enter academia and have a voice at colleges and universities," said Senator Warren. "Dr. Cook's life and achievements deserve recognition in the United States Senate, and I am glad to join my colleagues to introduce a resolution in his name."
"Dr. Cook's accomplishments as a scholar and luminary at Duke University marked an important milestone for diversity in academia," said Senator Burr. "I'm thankful that Dr. Cook called North Carolina home during his time at Duke, and proud that the Senate can recognize the great achievements of his life."
"The life and career of Dr. Samuel DuBois Cook serves students, New Orleans, Louisiana, the United States, and the world. It is teachers such as he who shape our destiny," said Dr. Cassidy.
"Dr. Cook was president of Dillard University in New Orleans, La. for 22 years from 1974-1997. He was a trailblazer in education and broke down racial barriers at college and universities across the country," said Senator Kennedy. "I am proud to join my colleagues in honoring him in the U.S. Senate."
Dr. Cook, born on November 21, 1928 in Griffin, Georgia, was a friend and classmate of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., attended Morehouse College and Ohio State University, served in the United States Army during the Korean War, and taught at multiple universities across the country. Dr. Cook taught at Duke University, where in 1966, he became the first African American to receive a tenure-track faculty appointment at a predominantly white southern college or university since Reconstruction. In 1974, Dr. Cook left Duke University to become president of Dillard University, a position he held for nearly 23 years.
"Like his mentor Benjamin Mays, former president of Morehouse college, Dr. Cook frequently has been described as ‘walking integrity'," said William A. "Sandy" Darity,Samuel DuBois Cook Professor of Public Policy at Duke University. "Dr. Cook was the quintessential scholar, activist and academic leader. Those three roles were indivisible for him. We appreciate the fact that the senators came together across the partisan divide to honor Dr. Cook. That's unusual in this day and age, and it's a testament to his legacy."
"When asked about the role of Black colleges, Samuel DuBois Cook said ‘First of all, it plays the same role as any other university: to pursue academic excellence.' Dr. Cook's admonition to Dillard as well as the entire HBCU community continues to guide the work we do today," said Dillard University President Walter Kimbrough.
The resolution states that Dr. Cook spent his life working for social justice and equality; distinguished himself as an educator, scholar, thinker, activist, and public servant; broke racial barriers in his field; endeavored to advance interracial harmony, and is considered to be a trailblazer who lived a life of integrity.