Guide to the Barry Sharoff Papers on the Duke Vigil, 1968-1988
The Duke Vigil was a peaceful demonstration, sparked by the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., that occurred at Duke University in April 1968. The Vigil involved students, faculty, and non-academic employees of the university and called for racial equality and improved wages for hourly workers. Barry Sharoff organized publicity for the Duke Vigil Strategy Committee. The collection includes fliers, newspapers, press releases, statements, notes, correspondence, and publicly distributed materials regarding the Duke Vigil gathered by Barry Sharoff in his role in charge of publicity for the Vigil, as well as materials related to the 20th anniversary of the Vigil in 1988.
- Record Group
- Barry Sharoff Papers on the Duke Vigil
- Sharoff, Barry
- 1.25 Linear Feet
- David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
- Materials in English
The collection includes fliers, newspapers, press releases, statements, notes, correspondence, and publicly distributed materials regarding the Duke Vigil gathered by Barry Sharoff in his role in charge of publicity for the Vigil.
Included are a number of fliers for Vigil activities, particularly meetings and boycotts; statements and press releases, including statements from Board of Trustees Chair Wright Tisdale, the general faculty, and the Special Trustee-Administrative Committee, and press releases from campus radio WDBS and the Office of Information Services; Barry Sharoff's notes on publicity and organizing efforts; a list of Vigil participants; newspapers, especially the Chronicle, featuring articles on the Vigil; and materials related to the 20th anniversary of the Duke Vigil, celebrated during the 1988 20th reunion of the Class of 1968.
Access to the Collection
Collection is open for research.
Use & Permissions
Copyright for Official University records is held by Duke University; all other copyright is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.
How to Cite
[Identification of item], Barry Sharoff Papers on the Duke Vigil, Duke University Archives, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.
Includes narrative accounts of the Vigil, discussion of activism and politics at universities, and a pamphlet called "The Duke Trustees and Labor" discussing individual trustees and their corporate activities. The authorship of one item is given (Huck Gutman and Richard Carro), others are undated and uncredited; it is unclear if any of these materials were later published.
Includes one handwritten contents of telegram from Nelson Rockefeller to Dr. John Strange on April 19, one unsigned typed letter with handwritten corrections from a leader of the Vigil (probably Barry Sharoff) to Mr. Herblock of the Washington Post regarding a political cartoon that appeared in the Durham Morning Herald (includes a copy of the cartoon), and a copy of a letter from Peter Klopfer to the Editors of Science regarding an article published in that magazine on the Duke Vigil.
Includes drafts and final copies of the statement given by the General Faculty on April 19th, a statement from the Divinity School Faculty on April 8th, an excerpt from an article in Science on faculty and administration, and a statement presented to the General Faculty on May 31st.
Includes fliers on participating in the Vigil, the dining hall boycott, and other events, as well as information on the Vigil, on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., on distributing fliers and information, statements by University officials, and other materials.
Includes copies of a letter from Edward McNeill, President of Local 77, to R. Taylor Cole, Provost of the University, on April 14, 1968, as well as three handouts or fliers on Local 77 and the activities surrounding the Vigil.
Includes handwritten notes, lists of Vigil participants and committee members, and information about the Duke Alumni organizations.
Includes statements from Wright Tisdale, the Duke Divinity School Community, the Special Trustee-Administrative Committee, and a statement to the Special Committee, most likely from the Vigil Committee; an address by Samuel Dubois Cook; press releases from WDBS and the Office of Information Services; a flier presenting an opposing argument on non-academic employee wages; and an interim report to the Academic Council from the Committee on Non-Academic Employees.
Includes materials related to recognizing the 20th anniversary of the Duke Vigil during the Class of 1968 20th reunion weekend, including mailings, schedules, a newspaper, and a letter to attendees.
Includes issues of the Chronicle and other newspapers regarding the Duke Vigil and surrounding events.
Barry Sharoff was a Duke student from 1964-1968. He lwas in charge of publicity for the Duke Vigil along with Reed Kramer. As a part of the Strategy Committee and other groups organizing the Vigil, Sharoff helped organize the distribution of fliers and other materials regarding the Duke Vigil, including activities and background information on the causes and demands of the Vigil.
Barry Sharoff graduated Duke in 1968 with a BA in Political Science. He currently lives in Colorado.
The Duke Vigil: Sparked by the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on April 4, 1968, Duke University students organized a peaceful protest for racial equality that left few students, faculty, administrators or employees unaffected. Up to 1,400 students slept on the Chapel Quad, food services and housekeeping employees went on strike, and most students boycotted the dining halls in support of the employees.
The protest began Friday evening, April 5, when 450 students marched three miles to University President Douglas Knight's House with the following four demands:
• That he sign an advertisement to be published in the Durham Morning Herald calling for a day of mourning;
• That he press for the $1.60 wage for University employees;
• That he resign from the then-segregated Hope Valley Country Club;
• That he appoint a committee of students, faculty and workers to make recommendations concerning collective bargaining and union recognition at Duke.
Knight met the students and faculty members on his front lawn, and began negotiations. Several students spent the night in the president's house at his invitation. Saturday afternoon, Knight attended and spoke at a memorial service for King in Duke Chapel. Following the service, 350 students and faculty marched to Knight's home to support the students still inside the house. Knight promised to release an official statement within 72 hours, but Vice President for Student Affairs William Griffith and Knight's physician William Anlyan told the group the president was about to collapse from exhaustion and could no longer participate in the negotiations.
The Duke Vigil officially began the next morning, Sunday, April 7, as protesters moved onto Chapel Quad. Coordinators demanded strict adherence to a set of rules for the demonstration. In their straight rows of 50 people, the students were not allowed to talk to each other or the press. Rigidly ordered, the quad protest was meant to symbolize the non-violent intentions of the group. By Tuesday night more than 1,400 demonstrators assembled for the Vigil.
On Wednesday, April 10, professor Samuel DuBois Cook addressed the students, and then Wright Tisdale, chair of the Board of Trustees, told the crowd the trustees and students shared the same concerns. He said the University would begin paying a $1.60 minimum wage and mentioned Knight's proposed committee to examine racial concerns. The demonstrators filed into Page Auditorium, where professors read an Academic Council resolution and tried to persuade the students to end the protest since the Board of Trustees had met the major part of their demands. The students agreed to drop their insistence on Knight's Durham Morning Herald advertisement and resignation from Hope Valley Country Club. After midnight on Thursday, April 11, 1968, the students decided to continue their boycott of the dining halls and pledged to support the workers' union, Local 77.
Members of the Duke Vigil Strategy Committee continued to organize activities after the official end of the Vigil. Seminars were held on the main quad (now Abele Quad) April 18-21, and another boycott of university dining halls was called for May 10.
[Portions of this text from 'Profound History': Students answered violence with the Silent Vigil by Laura Trivers, published in The Chronicle, April 4, 1988.]
Duke Vigil Collection, Duke University Archives, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.
WDBS Collection, Duke University Archives, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.
Click to find related materials at Duke University Libraries.
- Cook, Samuel DuBois, 1927-
- Duke University--Administration
- Duke University. Presidents
- Duke University -- Students -- Political activity
- Knight, Douglas M., 1921-2005
- King, Martin Luther, Jr., 1929-1968 -- Assassination
- Sharoff, Barry
- Strange, John Hadley, 1938-
- Tisdale, Wright
- WDBS (Radio station : Durham, N.C.)
- Civil rights demonstrations
- Collective bargaining -- College employees -- North Carolina -- Durham
- Publicity -- North Carolina -- Durham
- Students -- Political activity
- Student movements -- North Carolina
- Student participation in administration
- Wages -- College employees -- North Carolina -- Durham
The Barry Sharoff Papers on the Duke Vigil were received by the University Archives as a gift in 2017.
Processed by Tracy M. Jackson, March, 2017 Accessions described in this collection guide: UA2017.0006