Posted by: Khepera | Thursday, 26 March 2009

Dr. John Hope Franklin joins the ancestors…

Dr. John Hope Franklin was a giant among the community of scholars, Africanist & globally.  While he often took what some perceived as ‘unpopular’ positions, his perspective most often turned out to be more incisive, more correct.  While it can be easily said that he has influenced generations of African Americans, student & public alike, sadly, there are far more who never knew of him, or his work.  This is the type of thing which irks me so when I hear folks in our community bewail the lack of info available about our people, culture & history.  There is much more which could be said here, and I will undoubtedly add more over the next few days as the magnitude of this loss is more fully digested.  For now, take the time to search out some info on Dr. Franklin, his works, his perspective, and be a witness to what it means to truly leave a legacy to your people…




John Hope Franklin, the scholar who was a pioneer in the field of African American history and dominated it for nearly six decades, has died at the age of 94.

Franklin, James B. Duke Professor Emeritus of History, was a scholar who brought intellectual rigor as well as an engaged passion to his work. He wrote about history – one of his books, From Slavery to Freedom, is considered a core text on the African American experience, more than 60 years after its publication – and he lived it.

Franklin worked on the Brown v. Board of Education (1954) case, joined protestors in a 1965 march led by Martin Luther King, Jr. in Montgomery, Ala. and headed President Clinton’s 1997 National Advisory Board on Race.

Though Dr. Franklin gained national recognition for his work on President Clinton’s 1997 task force on race, his reputation as a scholar was made in 1947 with the publication of his book, “From Slavery to Freedom: A History of African-Americans, ” which is still considered the definitive account of the black experience in America. At the 92nd Annual ASALH convention, we had the privilege of honoring Dr. Franklin and this seminal work.  Conventioneers and the public were treated to conversations and special moments with Dr. Franklin who relayed stories from his life that helped to shape him into the scholar that he became. He received more than 130 honorary degrees, and served as president of the Phi Beta Kappa Society, the American Studies Association, the Southern Historical Association, the Organization of American Historians, the American Historical Association and was a Life Member of ASALH, former ASALH National Vice President, and a member of the ASALH Advisory Board until his death.

The Executive Council of ASALH is proud to say that we had the honor to work with and know Dr. John Hope Franklin and it is with sad and heavy hearts that we give him back to the Lord.

“Dr. Franklin never waivered in his support for ASALH,” said Sylvia Cyrus, ASALH Executive Director. “Recently he lent his voice to the ASALH project “Freedom’s Song” on the Tulsa Race Riots.  Through this video generations will continue to learn from Dr. Franklin, a tireless educator and dignified American.”

“We have lost a strong supporter and a dear friend,” said Dr. John E. Fleming, ASALH National President.  “He has left a void in the world of history that will not soon be filled.”

There will be a celebration of his life and of his late wife Aurelia Franklin at 11 a.m. June 11 in Duke Chapel in honor of their 69th wedding anniversary.

– The Officers, Executive Council, and Advisory Board of ASALH “Founders of Black History Month”

Association for the Study of African American Life and History
525 Bryant Street, NW
C.B. Powell Building, Suite C-142
Washington, DC 20059


See also:  A Reflection: John Hope Franklin–A Master of his Craft (1915-2009)


For full obit by Andrew L. Yarrow, & other ref’s

John Hope Franklin was a prolific scholar of African-American history who profoundly influenced thinking about slavery and Reconstruction. He died March 25, 2009, in Durham, N.C. He was 94.

During a career of scholarship, teaching and advocacy that spanned more than six decades, Dr. Franklin was deeply involved in the painful debates that helped reshape America’s racial identity, working with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., W.E.B. Du Bois, Thurgood Marshall and other giants of the 20th century.

Dr. Franklin combined idealism about the historian’s capacity for positively influencing policy with rigorous research and analysis of African-American and American history, producing such classic works as “From Slavery to Freedom: A History of African-Americans,” which has sold more than three million copies. He taught at some of the nation’s leading institutions, including Duke, Harvard and the University of Chicago, and as a scholar personally broke several racial barriers.

Dr. Franklin often argued that historians had an important role in shaping policy, and no example was more personally salient than his experience with Thurgood Marshall’s team of lawyers as they worked to strike down segregation in the landmark 1954 case Brown v. Board of Education. As he recalled in a 1974 lecture, “Using the findings of the historians, the lawyers argued that the history of segregation laws reveals that their main purpose was to organize the community upon the basis of a superior white and an inferior Negro caste.”

John Hope Franklin was born on Jan. 2, 1915, in Rentiesville, Okla., the son of Buck Franklin, a lawyer, and Molly Parker Franklin, an elementary school teacher. His parents had moved to Rentiesville, an all-black town, after his father was not allowed to practice law in Louisiana.

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