Commentary, History

John Hope Franklin, 1915-2009

John_Hope_Franklin.jpgHistorian John Hope Franklin, professor emeritus at Duke University, passed away early Wednesday morning at the age of 94. He was professor in the department of history at the University of Chicago from 1964 to 1982, chair of the department from 1967 to 1970, and John Matthews Manly Distinguished Service Professor from 1969 to 1982.
An outspoken champion of the Civil Rights movement, Franklin was involved in many of the pivotal issues regarding racial equality during the twentieth century, including, as NPR’s Debbie Elliott recently noted, “helping Thurgood Marshall and his team craft their landmark Brown v. Board of Education case against school segregation.” Professionally, he was regarded as a pioneering scholar in African American history and during his lifetime produced a host of definitive works on the subject. The Press is proud to have published Racial Equality in America (1976), George Washington Williams: A Biography (1985), as well as his Reconstruction after the Civil War, now in a third edition.
Among the many awards and honors he has received in recognition of his groundbreaking work, Franklin was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1995, and in 2006, the John W. Kluge Prize for lifetime achievement in the humanities. He was also an avid horticulturalist and orchid collector, a pursuit recognized in the form of the orchid named in his honor in 1976.