Another Life of a Leader


John Hope Franklin on the march from Selma to Montgomery, 1965.
John Hope Franklin on the march from Selma to Montgomery, 1965.

For whatever reason, I feel like a I read a lot of tributes–perhaps because there are always at least one or two in most issues of Business Week, Newsweek, The Week, and the WSJ. And it’s a different insight to look at the life of a person whose time has past. Reading this short memorial of John was touching, in part because of the magnitude of his reach and accomplishment, in part because of who you can feel that he was. 

Born into a world of segregation and a history of race written by whites, Franklin made himself into a great public intellectual— a bespoke black historian who put African-Americans on even ground in the national story. His research during Brown v. Board of Education helped desegregate the nation’s schools, while his bestselling work “From Slavery to Freedom,” now in its eighth edition, forever muscled aside racist portrayals of the black South. A graduate of Fisk and Harvard universities, he won enough honors for two lifetimes, including a Presidential Medal of Freedom. He died in Durham, N.C., where he was a distinguished professor at Duke. David Levering-Lewis, a Pulitzer Prize–winning historian whom Franklin mentored, shared these memories with NEWSWEEK‘s Tony Dokoupil.

Click here to read the full Newsweek article.

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