The History of Latinx Students at Duke University

Saturday, January 6, 2018
Atrium (Marriott Wardman Park)
Ellizabeth Barahona, Duke University
This thesis uncovers the history of Latinx students at Duke University since the arrival of the first Latinx student—Class of 1928 Rodolfo Rivera --to the protests and demands that led to the creation of La Casa, a space dedicated to Latinx students in 2017. This thesis investigates how Latinx students racially identified themselves since their arrival, and how the Duke University administration identified them, at a time when Duke felt encapsulated in a Black/White racial paradigm. Since their arrival to Duke in 1928, Latinx students were racially identified as “other.” This distinction that is was neither Black nor White, allowed for Latinx students to attend the racially segregated university. From 1928 to the late 1950s, Latinx students did not consistently unite as a community, organization, or under a common identity. Instead, some Latinx students organized nonconsecutively as part of the Cosmopolitan, Alien, International and Pan-American club. In the 1950’s, students began to consolidate themselves as a Spanish-speaking community but not as a community based on a common ancestry, ethnicity or race. This thesis will trace how a disconnected group of students became the Latinx community that protested eighty-nine years later.
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