John Hope Franklin died

John Hope Franklin died today at 94. The dear live-in philosopher just looked over my shoulder and said: at his age, wasn’t it to be expected? Easy to say, but in my heart, the loss still feels gargantuan. This here is from the NYTimes obit (linked above):

As a scholar, his research helped Thurgood Marshall win Brown v. Board of Education, the 1954 case that outlawed the doctrine of ”separate but equal” in the nation’s public schools.

”It was evident how much the lawyers appreciated what the historians could offer,” Franklin later wrote. ”For me, and I suspect the same was true for the others, it was exhilarating.”

Franklin broke numerous color barriers. He was the first black department chair at a predominantly white institution, Brooklyn College; the first black professor to hold an endowed chair at Duke University; and the first black president of the American Historical Association.

Above all, he documented how blacks had lived and served alongside whites from the nation’s birth. Black patriots fought at Lexington and Concord, Franklin pointed out in ”From Slavery to Freedom,” published in 1947. They crossed the Delaware with Washington and explored with Lewis and Clark. The text sold million of copies and remains required reading in college classrooms.

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