John Hope Franklin is the James B. Duke Professor Emeritus of History at Duke University, and the John Matthews Manly Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of History at the University of Chicago. He is a native of Oklahoma and a graduate of Fisk University. He received the A.M. and Ph.D. degrees in history from Harvard University. He has taught at a number of institutions, including Fisk University, St. Augustine’s College, North Carolina Central University, and Howard University. In 1956 he went to Brooklyn College as Chairman of the Department of History. In 1964, he joined the faculty of the University of Chicago, serving as Chairman of the Department of History from 1967 to 1970.
Professor Franklin’s publications include The Emancipation Proclamation, The Militant South, The Free Negro in North Carolina, Reconstruction After the Civil War and A Southern Odyssey: Travelers in the Ante-Bellum North. Perhaps his best known is From Slavery to Freedom: A History of African-Americans, now in its eighth edition, and translated into German, Japanese, French, Portuguese, and Chinese. His Jefferson Lecture in the Humanities for 1976 was published as Racial Equality in America. In 1985, his biography of George Washington Williams received the Clarence L. Holte Literary Prize. In 1990, a collection of essays covering a teaching and writing career of fifty years, was published under the title, Race and History: Selected Essays, 1938-1988. In 1993, he published The Color Line: Legacy for the Twenty-first Century. Professor Franklin and his son, John Whittington Franklin, edited his father’s My Life and an Era: The Autobiography of Buck Colbert Franklin. In 2001, he and Loren Schweninger published Runaway Slaves: Rebels on the Plantation, and in 2005 they published In Search of the Promised Land.
Professor Franklin has been active in numerous professional organizations. For many years he served on the editorial board of the Journal of Negro History. He has also served as president of the following organizations: The American Studies Association (1967), the Southern Historical Association (1970), The United Chapters of Phi Beta Kappa (1973-76), the Organization of American Historians (1975), and the American Historical Association (1979). He has been a member of the Board of Trustees of Fisk University, the Chicago Public Library, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Board of the Duke Endowment, and the Durham Symphony Orchestra.
Professor Franklin has served on many national commissions and delegations. In l962, President Kennedy appointed him to the Board of Foreign Scholarships (The Fulbright Board). He was reappointed to that post by President Johnson and served until l968. He also served under President Ford on the National Council on the Humanities, from which he resigned in l979 when President Carter appointed him to the Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy. He also served on President Carter’s Advisory Commission on Ambassadorial Appointments. In September and October of l980 he was a United States delegate to the 2lst General Conference of UNESCO in Belgrade. Among many other foreign assignments, Professor Franklin has served as Pitt Professor of American History and Institutions at Cambridge University, Consultant on American Education in the Soviet Union, Fulbright Professor in Australia, and Lecturer in American History in the People’s Republic of China, Japan, Venezuela, Argentina, Brazil, and Chile. In l998 and l998 Professor Franklin served as chairman of the Advisory Board for One America, the President’s Initiative on Race.
Professor Franklin has been the recipient of many honors. In 1978, Who’s Who in America selected Professor Franklin as one of eight Americans who made significant contributions to society. He received the Jefferson Medal for 1984, awarded by the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education. In 1989, he was the first recipient of the Cleanth Brooks Medal of the Fellowship of Southern Writers, and in 1990 received the Encyclopedia Britannica Gold Medal for the Dissemination of Knowledge. In 1993, Dr. Franklin received the Charles Frankel Prize for contributions to the humanities, and in 1994, the Cosmos Club Award and the Trumpet Award from Turner Broadcasting Corporation. In 1995, he received the first W.E.B. Du Bois Award from the Fisk University Alumni Association, the Organization of American Historians’ Award for Outstanding Achievement, the Alpha Phi Alpha Award of Merit, the NAACP’s Spingarn Medal, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. In 1978, Professor Franklin was elected to the Oklahoma Hall of Fame and in 1997 he received the Peggy V. Helmerich Distinguished Author Award. In addition to his many awards, Dr. Franklin has received keys to the city from many communities and honorary degrees from more than one hundred and thirty colleges and universities.
Professor Franklin has been extensively written about in various articles and books. Among them is The Facts of Reconstruction: Essays in Honor of John Hope Franklin, edited by Eric Anderson and Alfred A. Moss, Jr., Louisiana State University Press, 1991. In 1997, he was the subject of the film First Person Singular: John Hope Franklin. Produced by Lives and Legacies Films, the documentary was featured on PBS in June 1997. In 2003, Beverly Jarrett edited Tributes to John Hope Franklin: Scholar, Mentor, Father, Friend, University of Missouri Press. In 2005 he completed his own autobiography, Mirror to America, published by Farrar, Straus, and Giroux.