Breaking Barriers: Documenting the Trailblazing Black Students of Duke Divinity

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This abstract describes an oral thesis documentary project aimed at honoring the stories and experiences of trailblazing Black students who integrated Duke Divinity School in 1962 and the development of the Office of Black Church Affairs in 1972. The author/producer, an Interim Director at the Office of Black Church Studies, combines her film production, music, and marketing expertise to produce a documentary highlighting over 50 years of Black student matriculation at Duke Divinity and their empowerment as leaders. The documentary features interviews with historically silenced voices, including the first Black men (1962) and women (1973) to attend Duke Divinity School, providing a lasting testament to the transformative power of education in the face of adversity. The author/producer explores the intersections of faith, leadership, and social change, providing a valuable resource for future research.

Moreover, the author’s research aims to recover narratives of Black women who have actively challenged the status quo regarding who should be granted access to theological education and who should be allowed into the pulpit to preach the Gospel. This focus broadens our understanding of the complexities of the Black religious experience and contributes to ongoing discussions about the role of gender and race in shaping theological discourse. The story of Duke Divinity School’s decision to admit Black students in 1962 and establish the Black Church Studies program in 1972 bears witness to the transformative power of diversity and inclusion in theological education, serving as a reminder of the importance of embracing and celebrating diversity as a reflection of God’s love for all people.





Graham, Regina A. (2023). Breaking Barriers: Documenting the Trailblazing Black Students of Duke Divinity. Dissertation, Duke University. Retrieved from


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