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John Hope Franklin Dies, Leaves Guiding Light

Mar 26, 2009 (Tell Me More)

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Noted historian and pioneering Duke University Professor John Hope Franklin died yesterday at the age of 94. The legendary educator was widely respected for chronicling the African-American experience. The professor rose to become one of the most prominent and prolific scholars of his generation.

But Franklin not only chronicled the African American experience, he lived it. He was born in Oklahoma to a family who lost everything in the Tulsa race riots of 1921.

His seminal work, From Slavery to Freedom: A History of American Negroes, first published in 1947, placed the African-American experience squarely in the American narrative. During that same year Franklin began teaching at Howard University, where he worked on the Supreme Court case that outlawed public school segregation: Brown vs. Board of Education.

And in 1956, the teaching legend made history as the first African-American to chair the all-white history department at Brooklyn College.

Close friends and fellow scholars of Franklin — Duke University English Professor Karla Holloway, co-founder of the John Hope Franklin Center for Interdisciplinary and International Studies, and New York University professor and author David Levering Lewis — discuss why both the passion and the work of John Hope Franklin will live on.

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