Duke men’s basketball director of operations and player development Nolan Smith will receive a 2021 Samuel DuBois Cook Society Award in recognition of his activism and community outreach efforts during the social justice movements this past year.
The honor will be presented to Smith at the 24th annual awards ceremony via Webinar on Tuesday, Feb. 23 at 6 p.m. Chosen by the Samuel DuBois Cook Society Steering Committee, these esteemed awards are given to individuals who routinely enrich the lives of people in the Duke University community and contribute to the betterment of all people, above and beyond their given roles.
When racial and social injustices experienced throughout the nation came to light in the summer of 2020, Smith took on an active role in both the Duke and greater Durham community. The former team captain, ACC Player of the Year and National Champion helped lead multiple peaceful protests around the city, attended a summit with Durham public officials and was asked by Mayor Steve Schewel to serve as a community leader.
On August 27, Smith led an on-campus demonstration that brought together hundreds of Blue Devil student-athletes, staff and coaches in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. During the event, Smith addressed the crowd assembled on Krzyzewskiville, and his remarks were followed by men’s basketball head coach Mike Krzyzewski, women’s basketball head coach Kara Lawson, men’s basketball student-athletes Mike Buckmire and Henry Coleman III, and Duke professor of African and African American studies Mark Anthony Neal.
In September, Smith was featured on The George H.W. Bush Points of Light Inspiration Honor Roll, which celebrates both acts of kindness and service that demonstrate the light that individuals bring to their communities around the world. Affectionately known as ‘The People’s Champ’ in the Durham community, Smith was also named the Raleigh News & Observer’s citizen of the month for October.
Founded in 1997, The Samuel DuBois Cook Society was established in the spring of that year to honor Dr. Cook, a retired Duke professor who was the first African-American to hold a regular faculty appointment at a predominantly white college or university in the South. The society recognizes the years of service that Dr. Cook has offered to Duke, to the cause of African-American advancement, and to the betterment of relations between people of all backgrounds.
For more information on the 2021 Samuel DuBois Cook Society Awards Ceremony, including how to register for the virtual presentation, please click here.