We Remember John Hope Franklin


By Gary A. Johnson

The passing of Duke University professor John Hope Franklin at the age of 94 on March 25, 2009, went rather quietly, much like the man who broke numerous color barriers during his long life.  Professor Franklin is probably best known for his work From Slavery to Freedom, first published in 1947, is still considered the definitive account of the black experience in America.  More than three million copies have been sold.

Born and raised in an all-black community in Oklahoma, Franklin was among the scholars who assisted Thurgood Marshall in winning Brown v. Board of Education, the landmark 1954 case that outlawed the “separate but equal” doctrine in the USA’s public schools.

Franklin joined civil rights protesters in a 1965 march for voting rights led by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in Montgomery, Alabama. In 1997, he was appointed chairman of President Bill Clinton’s One America Initiative, charged with directing a national conversation on race relations.

“Because of the life John Hope Franklin lived, the public service he rendered, and the scholarship that was the mark of his distinguished career, we all have a richer understanding of who we are as Americans and our journey as a people,” President Barack Obama said in a statement.

Many of us owe Professor Franklin and countless other citizens a huge debt of gratitude for their many sacrifices.  In 1995, Professor Franklin was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.

2 Responses to “We Remember John Hope Franklin”

  1. One of America’s most important historians. “Runaway Slaves” had a profound affect on me.

  2. thats the way hte cookie crumbles

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