John Hope Franklin

Celebrate Black History

John Hope FranklinJohn Hope Franklin (January 2, 1915 – March 25, 2009) was a United States historian and past president of Phi Beta Kappa, the Organization of American Historians, the American Historical Association, and the Southern Historical Association. Franklin is best known for his work From Slavery to Freedom, first published in 1947, and continually updated. More than three million copies have been sold. 

From 1964 through 1968, Franklin was a professor of history at the University of Chicago, and chair of the department from 1967 to 1970. He was named to the endowed position of John Matthews Manly Distinguished Service Professor, which he held from 1969 to 1982. He was appointed to the Fulbright Board of Foreign Scholarships, 1962–69, and was its chair from 1966 to 1969.

Racial Equality in America is the published lecture series that Franklin presented in 1976 for the Jefferson Lecture sponsored by the National Endowment for Humanities. The book divides into three lectures, given in 3 different cities, chronicling the history of race in the United States from revolutionary times to 1976. These lectures explore the differences between some of the beliefs related to race with the reality documented in various historical and government texts as well as data gathered from census, property, and literary sources. The first lecture is titled “The Dream Deferred” and discusses the period from the revolution to 1820. The second lecture is titled “The Old Order Changeth Not” and discusses the rest of the 19th century. The third lecture is titled “Equality Indivisible” and discusses the 20th century. For his work on From Slavery to Freedom, Franklin received, the National Endowment for the Humanities in 1976, this is  U.S. federal government’s highest honor for achievement in the arena of humanities. 

In 1983, Franklin was appointed the James B. Duke Professor of History at Duke University. In 1985, he took emeritus status from this position. During this same year he helped to establish the Durham Literacy Center. 

In 1995, John Hope Franklin was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor. 

In 2005, at the age of 90, Franklin published and lectured on his new autobiography, Mirror to America: The Autobiography of John Hope Franklin. In 2006, he received the John W. Kluge Prize and as the recipient lectured on the successes and failures of race relations in America in Where do We Go from Here?

In 2008, Franklin endorsed presidential candidate Barack Obama.

Franklin died at Duke University Medical Center on the morning of March 25, 2009.


This Day In Black History (Feb. 6): 

1. BIRTH OF A POET (1898) – Poet Melvin B. Tolson born in Moberly, Missouri.He was a contemporary of the Harlem Renaissance and, although he was not a participant in it, his work reflects its influences. Liberia declared Tolson as its poet laureate in 1947.

2. BIRTH OF LEGEND (1945) – Bob Marley, Jamacian reggae singer/songwriter is born in Nine Miles, Jamaica. Marley would popularize both reggae music and Rastafariansim world wide during his short but impactful life.

3. ONLY BLACK TO WIN A GRAND SLAM DIES (1993) – Arthur Ashe remains the only African American player ever to win the men’s singles at Wimbledon, the U.S. Open, or Australian Open. Ashe died from complications from AIDS on this day.


Submitted by:

Dwayne B. Neal – Team N.A.M.E.S.
“Knowledge is power, but ACTION is King!”

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