Durham's Civil Rights Heritage

Durham Police Department integrated in 1944
Mar. 16, 2013 @ 10:08 AM

The Durham Police Department was integrated in 1944, when the department felt increased pressure to hire an African American in the wake of a 1943 riot. Clyde Cox (d. 1970) was one of the first two African-American police officers in Durham and the first black detective in the state of North Carolina.

He and James B. Samuel were hired July 1, 1944, to provide more law enforcement coverage in the African-American Hayti community. They and black officers that followed were known as the “Hayti Police.” Cox and Samuel were not allowed to use the bathroom or water fountain, eat lunch or change their clothes at police headquarters. (Not until the 1970s did African-American officers become fully integrated into the department.)

They knew that the white community would be watching them and that the leaders in the black community would have high expectations for them. As pioneers on the force, they struggled, survived, and paved the way for other African-American police officers to follow.