John Hope Franklin
John Hope Franklin
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.
John Hope Franklin is born in Rentiesville, Oklahoma on January 2, 1915 to Buck Colbert and Mollie Parker Franklin. Franklin is the youngest of his three siblings, Mozella, Buck Jr, and Anne. His father is one of the first Black lawyers in the Oklahoma Indian territory, and the first Black judge to sit on an Oklahoma district court. His mother is a school teacher and community leader.
The Tulsa Race Riots in 1921 becomes one of the most infamous cases of violence against African Americans in the history of America. The alleged genesis for the events was a black teen whistling at a white woman while in an elevator. Enraged at the break with the decorum of Jim Crow social practices, groups of whites in Tulsa began pillaging the corridor of businesses owned by African Americans in the town known as "Black Wall Street." The riots caused the burning and destruction of Buck Franklin's offices and delayed the Franklin family's arrival to Tulsa. Buck Franklin went on to represent a number of families and individuals seeking restitution for loss of property.
John Hope and his sister Anne Franklin enroll as undergraduate students at Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee. Having received only a tuition scholarship, John Hope had to secure on-campus employment as secretary to the librarian to pay for other education-related expenses. In college, John Hope took a wide array of courses, including German, physical education, contemporary civilization, and a general science survey class.
John Hope Franklin graduates magna cum laude from Fisk University. He was one of 75 students in the graduating class.
Theodore S. Currier takes out a loan in order to finance John Hope Franklin's graduate education at Harvard University. Currier declared: "Money will not keep you out of Harvard!"
In preparation to take a teaching appointment, John Hope Franklin receives his Master of Arts degree at Harvard University.
John Hope Franklin begins conducting his doctoral dissertation research at Harvard University. After encouragement from Professor Arthur M. Schlesinger, Franklin focuses on the topic of free Negroes in the state of North Carolina. Most of his research is done at the North Carolina State Archives in Raleigh, NC. Franklin has to work in a segregated space adjoining the "whites-only" section of the reading room.
At the onset of America's entry into World War II, John Hope Franklin made numerous attempts to volunteer his skills for military services. Although he was highly qualified for office tasks and being a historian with the War Department, his applications were rejected because of his race. These discriminatory practices led Franklin to conclude that the government did not really want his service and he resolved avoid the military at all costs. In fact, one of the reasons for his eventual move to take a teaching appointment at the North Carolina College for Negroes in Durham, North Carolina was because the president of the school, Dr. James E. Shepard, was on the local draft appeal board, thus allowing Franklin to avoid military service.
From Slavery to Freedom: A History of African Americans is widely considered to be the most authoritative, definitive, and comprehensive accounts of African American history. The book has been translated into Chinese, French, German, Japanese, and Portuguese, and over three million copies have been sold. The book has remained in print since it was first published.
John Hope Franklin is appointed Professor of History at Howard University. Franklin also meets C. Vann Woodward, a prominent White historian, in Washington D.C.
John Hope Franklin and C. Vann Woodward work together to integrate the 1949 meeting of the Southern Historical Association. Franklin becomes the first African American to present a paper at the Southern Historical Association.
Sweatt v. Painter was a U.S. Supreme Court case that successfully challenged the "separate but equal" doctrine in higher education and professional schools that had been established by the Plessy v. Fergusson trial of 1896. The NAACP asked John Hope Franklin to testify at the Sweatt v. Painter trial.
Dexter Perkins, President of the Salzburg Seminar in American Studies, invites John Hope Franklin to lecture at the fourth annual session in Salzburg, Austria. The Salzburg Seminar was established as an "academic rest center" to connect European students and American professors. It was Franklin's first international trip.
John Whittington Franklin is born on August 24, 1952. He is the only child of John Hope Franklin and Aurelia Whittington Franklin.
John Hope Franklin serves on the NAACP Legal Defense Fund team that develops the case for Brown v. Board of Education. Franklin's research contributed to Thurgood Marshall and the NAACP's legal victory in this landmark case.
Brooklyn College, a predominantly White institution, appoints John Hope Franklin as Chairman of the Department of History. This is the first time an African American is appointed chair of any department at a traditionally White institution. During his tenure at Brooklyn College, Franklin publishes The Militant South, 1800-1860 (1956), Reconstruction after the Civil War (1961), and The Emancipation Proclamation (1963).
Reconstruction After the Civil War offers a balanced and informative account of the role former slaves played in the Reconstruction era.
John Hope Franklin becomes the first African American to be elected as a member of the Cosmos Club. The Cosmos Club is a private social club in Washington, D.C. that welcomes individuals from the arts, literature, and science.
In this book, John Hope Franklin examines the circumstances and sociopolitical conditions that led President Lincoln to write the Emancipation Proclamation. This text also explores how the Emancipation Proclamation affected the trajectory of the war, as well as the significance that it has had for future generations.
Franklin joins the faculty at the University of Chicago. He serves as Chair of the History Department from 1967-1970, and is the John Matthews Manly Distinguished Service Professor from 1969-1982. While at the University of Chicago, Franklin serves as President of the Southern Historical Society, the Organization of American Historians, and the American Historical Association. Franklin also serves on the National Council on the Humanities from 1976-1982. During his tenure at the University of Chicago, Franklin also publishes Color and Race (1969) and Racial Equality in America (1979). He becomes Professor Emeritus in 1982.
Land of the Free: A History of the United States (co-authored with John Walton Caughey and Ernest R. May), provides a compelling account of the history of the United States, by establishing a narrative that shows respect and appreciation for the achievements and contributions of minority populations in the United States, in a way that most historical texts published at that time had not done.
The National Endowment for the Humanities invites John Hope Franklin to be the fifth Jefferson Lecturer in the Humanities. Franklin gives three lectures in Washington, D.C., Chicago, and San Francisco. The invitation to deliver his lectures coincided with the bicentennial of America's Independence. Franklin's three lectures focused on the topic of "Racial Equality in America."
Following a serious health challenge, John Hope Franklin decides to take a leave of absence from the University of Chicago for two years, after which time he would formally retire from the institution. Franklin becomes Professor Emeritus at the University of Chicago in 1982.
President Jimmy Carter nominates John Hope Franklin to be a member of the U.S. delegation to the 21st general conference of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in Belgrade, Yugoslavia. The conference was from September 23 to October 28, 1980.
John Hope Franklin and his wife Aurelia relocate to North Carolina, after he leaves the University of Chicago. Franklin serves as an inaugural fellow with the National Humanities Center in Research Triangle Park for one year.
John Hope Franklin is inducted into the Afro-American Hall of Fame (now the Oklahoma African-American Hall of Fame). Honorees are Oklahomans who have made significant contributions to their local community or the state of Oklahoma.
After reaching the mandatory retirement age in 1985, John Hope Franklin retires for a second time, becoming Professor Emeritus of History at Duke University.
John Hope Franklin accepts an appointment as Professor of Legal History at Duke University, a position he holds until 1992. During this time, he publishes two books, George Washington Williams: A Biography (1985), and Race and History, Selected Essays (1989).
In this book, John Hope Franklin traces the life of George Washington Williams, an accomplished Black intellectual who lived from 1849 to 1891. Williams was a soldier, lawyer, journalist, minister, and freelance diplomat. The book is part biography and part social history, as it highlights Franklin's own quest to uncover Williams' story.
John Hope Franklin is awarded the Clarence L. Holte Literary Prize for his book George Washington Williams: A Biography.
John Hope Franklin helps to establish the Durham Literacy Center in 1985. He also serves on the Board of the organization.
John Hope Franklin is the first recipient of the Cleanth Brooks Medal for Distinguished Achievement in Southern Letters by the Fellowship of Southern Writers.
John Hope Franklin receives the Spingarn Medal from the NAACP in 1995, "in recognition of an unrelenting quest for truth and the enlightenment of Western Civilization." The Spingarn Medal is the NAACP's highest honor, and is awarded annually to a person of African descent and American citizenship. The recipient of the Spingarn Medal is an individual who has attained high achievement and distinguished merit in any field.
John Hope Franklin is honored at Duke University by the establishment of the John Hope Franklin Collection for African and African-American Documents at Duke (now the John Hope Franklin Research Center).
John Hope Franklin is presented with an Award for Outstanding Achievement by the Organization of American Historians.
The Oklahoma Center For The Book presents John Hope Franklin with its Arrell Gibson Lifetime Achievement Award. The annual award is a literary prize that is presented to an Oklahoman for their work.
The autobiography of Buck Colbert Franklin (John Hope Franklin's father) includes accounts of his daily experiences from growing up in an Indian Territory to his work as a lawyer in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The autobiography was published from materials assembled and edited by John Hope Franklin and John Whittington Franklin.
John Hope Franklin is inducted into the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame. The NCLHOF honors distinguished writers in North Carolina writers.
John Hope Franklin and Bishop Desmond Tutu filmed "A Journey Toward Peace," a documentary film which aired on PBS.The film begins with the historic first encounter between Tutu and Franklin on Goree Island, the infamous former slave port off the coast of Senegal. The two are then joined by an international, interracial group of 21 high school students, and engage in a series of unusually candid encounters on race and begin an emotional journey towards racial reconciliation.
The Diary of James T. Ayers: Civil War Recruiter is edited by John Hope Franklin. The book presents a unique look into the recruitment process of African Americans during the Civil War, as told from the perspective of James T. Ayers, a northern White preacher. The book also highlights Ayers' complex attitudes towards racial issues, the Confederacy, and the Civil War.
Runaway Slaves: Rebels on the Plantation, by John Hope Franklin and Loren Schweninger, provides fascinating analysis of slave rebellion and escape attempts and reveals that slaves frequently rebelled against their slave owners and tried to escape. This account directly challenges popular notions of passive behavior among slaves, and describes how many slaves valiantly attempted to attain their freedom.
John Hope Franklin becomes the first African American recipient of The Harry S. Truman Good Neighbor Award. This distinguished award is presented to honor an individual in public life who exemplifies the "Good Neighbor" principles of Harry S. Truman, and has worked to improve their community, the nation, and the world.
The Raleigh News & Observer names John Hope Franklin "Tar Heel of the Year" in 1999. The annual honor is presented to a North Carolinian in recognition of the individual's leadership. The honoree is selected by newspaper's editors.
Duke University establishes the John Hope Franklin Center for Interdisciplinary & International Studies in honor of John Hope Franklin. The Center is a consortium of academic programs that encourage creative and collaborative scholarship and is the only building at Duke named after an African American.
In 2002, renowned scholar Molefe Kete Asante included John Hope Franklin in a biographical encyclopedia that includes a compilation of one hundred of the most influential African Americans (as assessed by Asante).
John Hope Franklin is a co-recipient of the $1 million John W. Kluge Prize for Study of Humanity awarded by the Library of Congress.
John Hope Franklin is honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Academy of Arts & Letters and the American Philosophical Society.
John Hope Franklin receives the Records of Achievement from the Foundation for the National Archives. This award is presented to honor an individual "whose work has fostered a broader national awareness of the history and identity of the United States through the use of original records."
In 2011, John Hope Franklin's autobiography, Mirror to America: The Autobiography of John Hope Franklin, received the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights Book Award. The RFK Book Award is presented to a novelist who "most faithfully and forcefully reflects Robert Kennedy's purposes - his concern for the poor and the powerless, his struggle for honest and even-handed justice, his conviction that a decent society must assure all young people a fair chance, and his faith that a free democracy can act to remedy disparities of power and opportunity." A panel of judges selects the winner of the annual award.