John Hope Franklin was not just a historian. He was the historian. From his 3.5 million copy best-seller, From Slavery to Freedom to his autobiography Mirror to America, Franklin has given us unparalleled insight into the dynamics of the African American experience. John Hope Franklin was a trailblazer, icon, inspiration, mentor, father, professor and so much more. He emerged out of the grip of Jim Crow, to earn his PhD from Harvard University and became the first Black historian to assume full professorship at a white institution – Brooklyn College. He has served several presidential administrations, from Franklin Rossevelt to Bill Clinton, earning the Presidential medal of Freedom, as well as over 130 honorary degrees – making him one of the most celebrated historians of all time. Franklin was a James B. Duke Professor Emeritus of History at Duke University, where he was an active advocate of the youth in the surrounding Durham community. Mine was one of the many young lives he touched.
John Hope Franklin, 94, died Wednesday of congestive heart failure at Duke University here in Durham, N.C. He will be missed.
In honor of his memory, this month we will re-run John Hope Franklin’s Blackademics interview.