Duke Today

January 22, 2021

By Duke Today Staff

Baseball great Hank Aaron, who died Friday, was connected to Duke in several ways, less because of his extraordinary performance on the baseball field, but more because of his contributions to the civil rights movement and to the education of young people.

In 2018, the Samuel Dubois Cook Society named its Young Scholars Summer Research Institute after Aaron and his wife Billye to honor their support of the program and other similar programs across the country. The Aarons, along with Ambassador Andrew Young, visited the campus for a ceremony and talked about his friendship with Samuel Dubois Cook, the first African-American faculty member at Duke, and Aaron’s desire to follow Cook’s example in promoting the education of young people.

The three-week summer social science program for Durham Public School students is free, and helps train the students to develop an interest in researching issues of economic, social, and political inequality.

In a statement today, William “Sandy” Darity, professor and director of the Cook Center, paid tribute to Aaron for his courage and conviction.

“Hank Aaron is most famous for his remarkable career in baseball,” Darity said. “But we also value him, deeply, for his personal integrity and his willingness to take courageous stands on important social issues, particularly those that involved racial injustice.  He and his wife, Billye Suber Aaron, always have had a commitment to justice, regardless of the cost. We are honored to have been able to name our Young Scholars Summer Research Institute after both of them. Mr. Aaron’s death is both a deep loss for the Cook Center and for me, personally.”

Read the full article here.