Historian John Hope Franklin Dies

Presidential Medal of Freedom winner and historian John Hope Franklin, whose work defined the field of African-American history, died from congestive heart failure Wednesday at Duke University hospital. He was 94.

Franklin played a key role in pivotal civil rights events of the 20th century. He was the author of the seminal 1947 book, From Slavery to Freedom: A History of Negro Americans.

Franklin was the first African-American to chair a history department at a majority white institution and the first to preside over major historical associations — all the while enduring the racism of his day.

John Hope Franklin Puts a 'Mirror to America'

Historian John Hope Franklin lives in Durham, N.C. Credit: Tina Tennessen, NPR.

Historian John Hope Franklin lives in Durham, N.C., near the John Hope Franklin Center for Interdisciplinary and International Studies at Duke University. Named in Franklin's honor, it opened in 2000. Tina Tennessen, NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Tina Tennessen, NPR

Historian John Hope Franklin has spent much of his life — 90 years, so far — investigating the legacy of slavery in America.

More from the Interview

In addition to chronicling American history, Franklin has also witnessed it. Here are some more of his memories and thoughts.

He has been more than a chronicler of the African American experience. Franklin was, in fact, an important player in the Civil Rights movement, helping Thurgood Marshall and his team craft their landmark Brown v. Board of Education case against school segregation.

Debbie Elliott talks with Franklin about his new memoir, Mirror to America.

Tina Tennessen produced this story.

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