On the morning of March 25, the world lost one of its greatest historians.
Dr. John Hope Franklin died of congestive heart failure at Duke Hospital in North Carolina. He was 94 years old. Franklin taught at Duke University-a professor emeritus in history. A scholar who brought intellectual rigor as well as passion to his work, Franklin was a prolific author. His book, From Slavery to Freedom: A History of African-Americans, is considered a core text on the African-American experience more than 60 years after its publication. But Franklin not only wrote about history-he lived it. He worked on the Brown v. Board of Education case (1954), joined protestors in a 1965 march led by Martin Luther King, Jr. in Montgomery, Ala., and headed President Clinton’s 1997 national advisory board on race. But his reputation as a scholar was made in 1947 with the publication of From Slavery to Freedom, still considered the definitive account of the black experience in America. Franklin lived in Durham, N.C. with his former college sweetheart and wife of 59 years, Aurelia, a librarian who died in 1999. Their only child, John W. Franklin, became a program director at the Smithsonian Institution. Per Franklin’s wishes, there will be no funeral or memorial service, however, there will be a celebration of his life and that of his late wife at 11 a.m., June 11, in Duke Chapel, in honor of their 69th wedding anniversary.