On February 13, 1969, between 50 and 75 Duke University students (many of whom were members of the Afro-American Society) occupied the Allen Building (Duke's main administration building) to bring attention to the needs of African-American students. These needs included an African-American studies department, a black student union, protection from police harassment, and increased enrollment and financial support for black students.
The students remained barricaded in the Allen Building for most of the day, leaving sometime after 5:00 PM after an ultimatum from the Duke administration. Although their exit was peaceful, a large crowd of mostly white students had gathered outside the building during the day, and this crowd and the police became entangled. The police fired tear gas on the students, prompting further campus protests.
In March, after discussions between the Afro-American Society and the administration over the development of the African-American Studies program ended in disagreement, Duke students and their supporters marched in downtown Durham. Dozens of Duke's African-American students threatened to leave campus to attend the Malcolm X Liberation University, a newly-developed school led by community activist Howard Fuller. On March 19, 1969, a University Hearing Committee found the students who had occupied the Allen Building guilty of violating university regulations. All defendants were sentenced to one year of probation.
This powerful demonstration became known as the Allen Building Takeover.
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