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On February 13th, 1969, black students at Duke University joined the fight for civil rights and the equal treatment of African Americans in the United States. As part of Black Culture Week (February 4-12) at Duke University, 60 or so black students entered the Allen Building on the Duke University campus and barricaded themselves in. They renamed the building the Malcom X Liberation School. The occupation only lasted one business day, but it did not go unnoticed. By the end of the day, the initially peaceful protest turned into a scene of aggressive police intervention. It forced the administration to begin discussing the protestors’ demands. These demands included an African American Studies Department, representation as a legitimate organization on campus, protection from police brutality, and other support systems for black students on campus. Though the students exited the building the same day, an agreement between the administration and students could not be made. This led to a student strike and further protests which included students from other colleges and community members. These protests also ended in violence. Protests continued until a loose agreement was made in mid-March of 1969. In 2002, the event was commemorated with a lock-in of the Allen Building to reflect on the activism that has taken place at Duke University.

The Allen Building Takeover Collection contains materials including but not limited to photographs, flyers, correspondence, publications, and other ephemera. The materials document the events of February 13th, the aftermath, and the commemoration of the Allen Building Takeover. The collection contains materials representing the opinions and actions of both sides of the event.

The materials began to be transferred to the University Archives in 1973 and continued to be relinquished to the archives throughout the years, demonstrating a growth in trust between the students and the administration. The Duke University Archives also holds a collection of oral histories related to the Allen Building Takeover titled The Allen Building Takeover Oral History Collection.

Malcom X University of Liberation promotional flyer, 1969.
Flyer for student organized symposium to discuss racial tensions at Duke University, 1969.
Flyer for an event to unify students at Duke University in support of black student representation in college wide decision-making, 1969.

Citation: [Documents, March-April 1969], Allen Building Takeover Collection, Duke University Archives, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.