Cassidy, Burr, Tillis recognize Dr. Samuel DuBois Cook’s achievements with bipartisan resolution

A bipartisan resolution introduced by U.S. Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Richard Burr (R-NC) and Thom Tillis (R-NC) on Wednesday honors the life of Dr. Samuel DuBois Cook, a groundbreaking African-American scholar who died at the age of 88 earlier this year.

Cook became the first African-American to hold a regular or tenured faculty position at a predominately white southern college or university, and he served as the president of Dillard University, a historically black university (HBCU) in New Orleans from 1974 to 1997. Cassidy, Burr and Tillis were joined by U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and John Kennedy (R-LA) in introducing a resolution honoring Cook’s life and accomplishments.

“The life and career of Dr. Samuel DuBois Cook serves students, New Orleans, Louisiana, the United States and the world,” Cassidy said. “It is teachers such as he who shape our destiny.”

A friend and classmate of Martin Luther King Jr., Cook was an Army veteran of the Korean War who received a tenure-track appointment at Duke University, a predominately white southern college, in 1966. He taught at multiple colleges across the country.

“Dr. Cook’s accomplishments as a scholar and luminary at Duke University marked an important milestone for diversity in academia,” Burr said. “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.”

Tillis, meanwhile, called Cook an “educational pioneer” who paved the way for more diversity among academic leaders.

“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,” Tillis said.

The resolution states that Cook dedicated his life to social justice and equality, distinguished himself as an educator, scholar, thinker, activist and public servant, and broke racial barriers while living a life of integrity.

“Like his mentor Benjamin Mays, former president of Morehouse College, Dr. Cook frequently has been described as ‘walking integrity,'” said William “Sandy” Darity, the 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.”

Current Dillard University President Walter Kimbrough said that once when Cook was asked about the role of black colleges Cook responded, “First of all, it plays the same role as any other university: to pursue academic excellence.” Kimbrough noted that, “Dr. Cook’s admonition to Dillard as well as the entire HBCU community continues to guide the work we do today.”