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Reflections on Dr. Samuel DuBois Cook: A Great Teacher and Model

When Dr. Samuel DuBois Cook died on May 29, our nation and the world lost a very creative and distinguished political scientist , a pioneering black researcher and an outstanding role model of oak for his students. I was fortunate to be among them as a Spelman College student in his course of political theory at the University of Atlanta.

Originally from Georgia, he entered Morehouse College when he was 15 years old and was in the same class as his friend and partner Martin Luther King, a 15-year-old son. In Morehouse he was president of the student body and founded the campus chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). He received his master's degree and Ph.D. He graduated from Ohio State University and taught at Southern University, Atlanta University, University of Illinois, UCLA and Duke University. At Duke University, he was the first African-American to have a regular faculty appointment at a predominantly white university or university. In 1974 he became president of the historic Black Dillard University in New Orleans, where he served for 22 years. He also served on the Duke Board of Trustees during his tenure as president of Dillard.

Dr. Cook was the first black president of the Southern Political Science Association, vice president of the American Political Science Association, president of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History Inc., and president of the Presidents of the United Negro College Fund. . President Jimmy Carter named him to the National Humanities Council, President Bill Clinton appointed him to the United States Holocaust Memorial Council, and Duke University established the Samuel DuBois Cook Society, the Samuel DuBois Cook Equity Center Social and a postdoctoral fellowship in his Center for the Study of Race, Ethnicity and Gender in the Social Sciences in his honor. However, his legacy went far beyond his academic positions and many awards. For generations of his students, including me, "Dr. Sam" was a great gift and I will never forget his cheerful laughter, harsh criticism but positive encouragement.

While a student at Spelman College in Atlanta, Dr. Sam was a professor of Political Science and Theory at the University of Atlanta. I was guided by the historian and the chairman of Spelman's Social Science Department, Howard Zinn, my wonderful teacher at Spelman who nominated me for a Merrill scholarship to study abroad in my junior year in Paris and Geneva. To prepare myself for Europe and the larger world, Howie's first step (as we call it) was to send me to Dr. Sam's course in political theory. What a wonderful gift that was. Dr. Sam was an extraordinarily creative, attractive and talented teacher. Your wonderful exercises of asking students to see and create a nation and a worldview through the eyes of a wide range of thinkers, activists and political theorists from Gandhi and King to Lenin, Trotsky and Tolstoy helped me understand the crucial importance of seeing and analyzing the world through the lens of others and learning to think about the box and become a critical thinker.

Dr. Sam was a welcoming, caring, understanding and demanding teacher, always stretching his students to think and act with disciplined intellect, emotion and rigor. I remember his firm but kind criticism when he returned a document that I gave him during my very days of student protests occupied by not living up to my standards, telling me that I would go to jail or planning to, not It was an excuse for second-class work. I heard it loud and clear and I thank you. He encouraged students to participate in the Civil Rights Movement and moderated "municipal meetings" between leaders and students of civil rights, but emphasized that doing school work was equally important to becoming a leader. He was proud when he joined the Duke faculty and when he became president of Dillard our friendship continued and he asked me to join the Dillard board. He and his wonderful wife Sylvia, a sister Spelmanite, were married for more than 50 years and left a lasting legacy in all the young people who benefited from their knowledge, care and hospitality. And what a wonderful laugh it was!

If all young people were blessed enough to have the kind of teachers who not only serve as mentors and friends, but are reflective, intellectually challenging and have a moral basis enough to help shape the world. I thank Dr. Samuel DuBois Cook for his wisdom, integrity, rigor and care in forming generations of students to pursue economic justice and civil rights for all. The lessons he taught about seeking and remaining open to many points of view but never losing his moral core are needed now more than ever if we want to raise a new generation that will be a servant, globalizer and not isolationist able to navigate. and lead in a diverse and rapidly changing world.

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