I remember being interviewed and chosen to be the first university mascot of color, from 1976 to 1977. Back in those days, the mascot wore a Batman-type mask – only the top half of the face was covered. I can remember going to both home games and away games and being taunted with racial slurs by the opposing teams and their fans and even dodging missiles thrown my way by these people and their fans.
Nothing, however, was more heartbreaking than to discover that I had been excluded from university alumni functions when visiting other cities with the cheerleadiung squads, evidently due to my obvious blackness. This alienation was further driven home when I was excluded from the annual athletic banquet held at the end of the academic year. Not only was I not invited, but I also was never offered, nor did I receive, the customary athletic jacket that previous Duke mascots received.
Adding insult to injury, the next year the face of the Blue Devil was covered in totality. To this day I have refused to join the Alumni Association nor have I ever made a contribution to the Duke University Loyalty Fund. Duke Athletics made it clear that I was not a welcome student ambassador. My subsequent silence echoes my agreement with their sentiments.
Michael M. Holyfield, T ‘79