John Hope Franklin Dead at Age 94 - Black Enterprise
Black Enterprise Magazine January-March 2019 Issue

0325_jphJohn Hope Franklin, a chronicler of history who also shaped it, died this morning from congestive heart failure. He was 94 years old.

“John Hope Franklin lived for nearly a century and helped define that century,” said Duke President Richard H. Brodhead. “A towering historian, he led the recognition that African-American history and American history are one.”

In 1947, Franklin wrote “From Slavery to Freedom: A History of African-Americans,” his seminal work that is often touted as the foremost work in African American history. His research for the book led him to segregated libraries and archives at universities that wouldn’t even allow him to use the bathroom. One such place, Duke University, later opened the John Hope Franklin Center for Interdisciplinary and International Studies in 2001.

“Because of the life John Hope Franklin lived, the public service he rendered, and the scholarship that was the mark of his distinguished career, we all have a richer understanding of who we are as Americans and our journey as a people,” said President Barack Obama in a statement. “Dr. Franklin will be deeply missed, but his legacy is one that will surely endure. Michelle and I send our thoughts and prayers to his loved ones, as our nation mourns his loss.”

Franklin, a Fisk and Harvard University alumnus worked on the Brown v. Board of Education case and headed former President Bill Clinton’s 1997 national task force on race. Clinton awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.

In 2007, Franklin returned to Oklahoma to testify in a hearing urging Congress to pass legislation that would allow survivors of the Tulsa race riots to sue for reparations. The riots left 300 black residents dead or missing and scattered 10,000 other black Tulsan’s across the country. Franklin’s family was displaced in 1921 when their home and his father, Buck Colbert Franklin’s law practice were burned in the riots.

“I’ve lost a great mentor and a friend,” says Harvard Law School professor Charles Ogletree, who led the Tulsa reparations case. “There is no one who has been more thorough and persuasive in tracing the history of African American’s struggle and progress over the last several decades. He lived a long and glorious life but losing him is no easy task.”

“Because of the life John Hope Franklin lived, the public service he rendered, and the scholarship that was the mark of his distinguished career, we all have a richer understanding of who we are as Americans and our journey as a people, ” said President Barack Obama in a statement.

In a Duke University Interview last June, though he never thought that it would happen in his lifetime, Franklin said the possibility of America’s first Black president was an indication of the “willingness of this country to turn a significant corner.”

“I am glad that he was both alive and well to see the election of Barack Obama to president of the United States. It reaffirms his own belief that when given the opportunity to perform in an equal and unobstructed society we all can exceed at the highest levels.”

A memorial service is planned for Franklin and his wife Arelia Franklin who proceeded him in death at Duke University Memorial Chapel on June 11.

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Marcia Wade Talbert

Marcia is a multimedia content producer focusing on technology at Black Enterprise Magazine. In this capacity she writes and assigns stories to educate readers about social media; digital integration; gadgets, apps, and software for business and professional development; minority tech startups; and careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). In 2012, she received two Salute to Excellence Awards from the National Association of Black Journalists and was recognized by Blacks in Technology (BiT) as one of the Top 10 Black achievers in the tech arena for 2011 at SXSW in Austin, Texas. She has spoken about technology on panels for New York Social Media Week, at The 2012 Rainbow/PUSH Wall Street Summit, as well as at Black Enterprise’s Entrepreneurs Conference and Women of Power Summit. In 2011, chose her as one of 28 People of Color Impacting the Social Web, and through crowdsourcing she was listed as one of BlackWeb2.0's/HP's 50 Most Notable African American Tastemakers in Social Media and Technology for 2010. Since taking on the role of Tech editor in September 2010, she has conceived and produced five cover stories on Technology and/or STEM and countless articles, videos, and slideshows online. Before joining as an interactive general assignment reporter in 2008, she freelanced with Black Enterprise beginning in 2003 while working as the technical editor at Prepared Foods magazine. There she further honed her writing skills and became an authority on food ingredients, including ingredients used in food fortification and enrichment. Meanwhile, her freelancing with Black Enterprise and helped her stay current on issues pertaining to the financial and business welfare of African Americans. As a general reporter for Black Enterprise she attended and reported on the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, where she interviewed Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor and assistant to President Barack Obama and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Marcia has a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture with an emphasis in food science from the University of Minnesota, and a Master of Science degree in journalism from Roosevelt University in Chicago. En route to her secondary degree, she served as the editor-in-chief of the Roosevelt University Torch, a weekly, student-run newspaper. An avid photographer and videographer, Marcia is one of several employees at BLACK ENTERPRISE who interned for the publishing company as a college student. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, a food scientist; her seventeen-month-old daughter; and “The Cat”, but still considers Chicago home.