Discussion with Peggy Cooper Cafritz

  • Yale Law School 127 Wall St New Haven, CT, 06511 United States

Join the founder of the Duke Ellington School of the Arts, Peggy Cooper Cafritz, for a discussion on art, law, education and collection. Moderated by Amar C. Bakshi.

About Peggy Cooper Cafritz

Peggy Cooper Cafritz is the founder of the Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington D.C. Born and raised in Mobile, Alabama, Cafritz came to Washington, D.C. in 1964 to attend the George Washington University. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in political science in 1968, and went on to complete her Juris Doctor at GWU in 1971. During her undergraduate work at the George Washington University, she initiated a movement to desegregate sororities on campus, and she helped found the Black Student Union.

While preparing for law school in the summer of 1968, Cafritz and a friend, Mike Malone, established a summer arts workshop for minority children in classrooms on GWU’s campus. With support from GWU President, Lloyd Elliot, the Workshops for Careers in the Arts raised $30,000 in funding and enrolled 90 students in its first year. Over the next six years, the program grew to become the Duke Ellington School of the Arts, an accredited four-year public high school program that was integrated into the District of Columbia’s school system in 1974.

President Bill Clinton appointed Peggy Cooper Cafritz vice chairperson of the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities in 1993. That same year she began her work on the Smithsonian Institution’s Cultural Equity Subcommittee. During this time Cafritz successfully lobbied for greater cultural diversity in the Smithsonian’s professional staff, exhibitions, and educational programs. The subcommittee also helped found the Museum of the American Indian, and the Museum of African Art. Peggy Cooper Cafritz was elected as president of the District of Columbia’s Board of Education in November 2000. She was re-elected in 2002 and served until 2006.

In addition, Peggy has an extensive, renowned art collection. See a recent New York Times profile here.