Born on November 22, 1912, Doris Duke was the only child of James Buchanan (J.B.) Duke, a founder of the American Tobacco Company and Duke Energy Company and a benefactor of Duke University, and Nanaline Holt Duke. Inheriting a bulk of her father's estate in 1925, which included Duke Farms in New Jersey, Rough Point in Newport, R.I., and a mansion in New York City, Doris was soon dubbed by the press as "the richest girl in the world." Although Doris did her best to live a private life, she contributed to a number of public causes and was an active supporter of the arts, historic preservation, and the environment. Doris Duke died in October 1993 at the age of 80. In her will she left the majority of her estate to the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.
John Hope Franklin was a historian specializing in Southern and African American history. He wrote From Slavery to Freedom, the seminal work on African American history, which was first published in 1947. In the course of his career, Franklin had professorships at St. Augustine College, North Carolina College, Howard University, Brooklyn College, University of Chicago, and Duke University. He served as president of numerous historical and community organizations throughout his career. President Clinton awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1995. Franklin also served on President Clinton's Advisory Board for the President's Initiative on Race from 1997 to 1998.