John Hope Franklin (1915-2009)
Noted historian John Hope Franklin, a member of the National Advisory board of the King Papers Project/King Institute and professor emeritus at Duke University, died on March 25 at Duke University Hospital in Durham, North Carolina. As the author of the seminal textbook, From Slavery to Freedom, published in 1947, Dr. Franklin was a pioneer in the field of African-American studies. He also served as chairman of President Bill Clinton's Initiative on Race and later was honored by Clinton with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian award.
During a career that spanned more than 70 years, Dr. Franklin was intimately involved in the civil rights movement, working with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.; W. E. B. Du Bois; Thurgood Marshall; and other major civil rights figures of the 20th century. He participated in the 1965 Selma to Montgomery March with Dr. King and personally broke racial barriers. Franklin served as the first African-American president of the American Historical Association, the first black department chair at Brooklyn College and the University of Chicago, the first black professor to hold an endowed chair at Duke University, and the first African-American to present a paper at the segregated Southern Historical Association.
Dr. Franklin had a long-standing relationship with the King Papers Project, visiting the project's offices at Stanford and meeting on several occasions with project director Clayborne Carson and members of his staff. Franklin was also partly responsible for Carson's selection as editor of King's papers in 1985. As an advisor to King Center president Coretta Scott King, he recommended the Stanford historian for the position and subsequent served as an informal consultant for the King Papers Project and the King Institute.
On June 11, there will be a celebration at Duke University Chapel of Franklin's life and that of his late wife Aurelia Franklin in honor of their 69th wedding anniversary.
Duke University has set up a memorial website where visitors are encouraged to leave their condolences to the Franklin family and memories of Dr. Franklin.