We lost a pillar of Black America this week. Professor John Hope Franklin died Wednesday of congestive heart failure at the age of 94. Best known for landmark book, “From Slavery to Freedom”,which remains as relevant today as it was 60 years ago when first published, Professor Franklin was not just the consummate historian and scholar, with a “shining intellect”*; he was a lovely man who was the embodiment of grace and dignity.
He contributed his research and advice to the Brown v. Board of Education win, which brought about the demise of the nation’s “separate but equal” doctrine in public schools. Franklin said that his involvement in the case was “exhilarating” because of how much Thurgood Marshall and his team relied on his historical input.
Professor Franklin was the first Black to chair a department at a predominantly White university, Brooklyn College’s history department. He was the first Black to hold an endowed chair at Duke. And he was the first Black president of the American Historical Association.
*Information and quotes obtained from The Associated Press article by Martha Waggoner.