John Hope Franklin Dies, Leaves Guiding Light

John Hope Franklin

hide captionPioneering scholar John Hope Franklin died yesterday at age 94.

Duke University

Duke University Tribute

Noted historian and pioneering Duke University Professor John Hope Franklin died yesterday at the age of 94. The legendary educator was widely respected for chronicling the African-American experience. The professor rose to become one of the most prominent and prolific scholars of his generation.

But Franklin not only chronicled the African American experience, he lived it. He was born in Oklahoma to a family who lost everything in the Tulsa race riots of 1921.

His seminal work, From Slavery to Freedom: A History of American Negroes, first published in 1947, placed the African-American experience squarely in the American narrative. During that same year Franklin began teaching at Howard University, where he worked on the Supreme Court case that outlawed public school segregation: Brown vs. Board of Education.

And in 1956, the teaching legend made history as the first African-American to chair the all-white history department at Brooklyn College.

Close friends and fellow scholars of Franklin — Duke University English Professor Karla Holloway, co-founder of the John Hope Franklin Center for Interdisciplinary and International Studies, and New York University professor and author David Levering Lewis — discuss why both the passion and the work of John Hope Franklin will live on.

John Hope Franklin Puts a 'Mirror to America'

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

hide captionHistorian 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

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.

Books Featured In This Story

From Slavery to Freedom
From Slavery to Freedom

A History of African Americans

by John Hope Franklin and Alfred A., Jr. Moss

Hardcover, 742 pages | purchase

close

Purchase Featured Books

  • From Slavery to Freedom
  • A History of African Americans
  • John Hope Franklin and Alfred A., Jr. Moss

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

Support comes from: