The Duke history department wants to rename the Carr Building for him

Historians in the News
tags: Duke University, Carr Building, Raymond Gavins

As support  for removing the Carr Building's name continues to grow, here's a look at the legacy of the man the history department wants to rename it for.

In late August, the history department submitted a proposal to the Board of Trustees, recommending that the Carr Building be renamed after Raymond Gavins, the first African-American history professor at Duke.

One-hundred forty Duke history alumni also signed a letter submitted to Richard Riddell, senior vice president and secretary to the Board of Trustees, earlier this month denouncing the namesake of Julian Carr, a “virulent white supremacist”who donated Blackwell Park to Trinity College, allowing the college to move to Durham in 1924 and become Duke University. They also unanimously recommended Raymond Gavins as a new namesake for the building. 

Gavins joined Duke’s faculty in 1970, becoming the first African-American faculty member in the history department. His students say he not only shaped the trajectory of the department, but served as a mentor and role model for students during his 46-year tenure at the school. Gavins died in 2016. 

Born in Atlanta, Ga., Gavins was the seventh of eight children in his family and went on to pursue his higher education at the Virginia Union University in Richmond, Va., until his graduation in 1964. He then earned both his master’s and Ph.D. degrees in history at the University of Virginia, becoming the first African American to earn a Ph.D. in the history in the university’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences in 1967. 

Gavins taught Duke's first course in African-American history in the Fall 1970. Waldo Martin, now the Alexander F. and May T. Morrison professor of American history and citizenship at University of California at Berkeley, said he remembers taking the class as a sophomore. ...

Read entire article at The Chronicle

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