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Ph.D., Harvard University.
Chairman, History Department, Brooklyn College, University of Chicago; Chair, President Clinton's Advisory Panel on Race Issues in America.
Author of The Emancipation Proclamation (1963), Color and Race (1968), and The Color Line: Legacy for the Twenty-First Century (1993).

January 2, 1915 – March 25, 2009

J. H. Franklin, a Mirror to America
John Hope Franklin, historian, scholar, and humanitarian, represented and lived a life that reflected the realities and the possibilities of America. He suffered the stifling and humiliating abuse of bigotry, yet went on to realize the ideal of the American dream—you can pursue life, liberty, and happiness in the land of opportunity.

Born in the Oklahoma territory in 1915 and raised in an all African-American community, John Hope Franklin was one of the few African-American men to attend Harvard in the 1930s, where he obtained a Ph.D. He began his teaching career at Fisk University and went on to teach at various other universities across the country, finishing his career at Duke University where he served as James B. Duke Professor Emeritus of History.

His long career of teaching and writing earned him many awards, degrees, accolades, and appointments, as well as the respect of many. As Duke President Richard H. Brodhead said, “John Hope Franklin lived for nearly a century and helped define that century. A towering historian, he led the recognition that African-American history and American history are one. With his grasp of the past, he spent a lifetime building a future of inclusiveness, fairness, and equality."

His book, From Slavery to Freedom, published in 1947, was one of his contributions to that history. This classic African-American history textbook is now in its eighth printing. Though Franklin wrote more than 15 other books, his contributions to this history exceeded words on paper. He helped research the Supreme Court’s Brown vs. Board of Education case, participated in civil rights marches, and served as an advisor on many presidential commissions. In 1995 he won the Presidential Medal of Freedom and, in 2006, he received the John W. Kluge Award, the equivalent in the humanities to the Nobel Prize. Still active in his 90s, Franklin received the Lifetime Achievement Award by the American Academy of Arts & Letters and the American Philosophical Society in 2007.

In all he received more than 130 honorary degrees, was elected to the Oklahoma Hall of Fame in 1978, among other halls of fame, and earned many academic appointments and honors. His legacy will live on in literature and through the John Hope Franklin Center for Interdisciplinary & International Studies, which Duke University established in 2001.

In his comments during an interview with Atlanta Style and Design in the spring of 2007, Franklin said, “I now just wish the American people would wake up, learn from our history as a nation and try to change the absolutely reckless direction we’re headed in. I wrote in Mirror To America, the test of an advanced society is not in how many millionaires it can produce, but in how many law-abiding, hardworking, highly respected, and self-respecting loyal citizens it can produce. The success of such a venture is a measure of the success of our national enterprise.”

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