Duke Honors John Hope Franklin's 100th Birthday

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John Hope Franklin


Duke University will host a number of events during the next year paying tribute to preeminent historian John Hope Franklin, who would have turned 100 years old this January.

“John Hope [email protected]: Scholar, Activist, Citizen” will kick off on Wednesday, Jan. 28, with an event featuring Vernon Jordan, a civil rights activist, attorney, former adviser to President Bill Clinton and a personal friend of the Franklin family. Jordan will discuss the way Franklin, who died on March 25, 2009, at age 94, changed American universities in the 20th century.

The 6 p.m. celebration is free and open to the public and takes place in the Von Der Heyden Pavilion on Duke’s West Campus. Visitor parking is available in the Bryan Center garage.

“It is an honor for the centenary kick-off to take place here in the library and to host an exhibition in Dr. Franklin’s honor throughout the spring semester,” said John Gartrell, the director of the John Hope Franklin Research Center at Duke.

“Dr. Franklin’s presence on campus is sorely missed by those who worked with him and knew him so well, and we hope the yearlong celebration of his life will honor his legacy and continue to inspire young generations of scholars to follow in his footsteps,” Gartrell said.

In addition to Duke, North Carolina Central University and the Durham County Library have organized events for the John Hope Franklin Centenary celebration.

Highlights from the centenary include:

Feb. 5: “Tutu & Franklin: A Journey Towards Peace,” documentary

5-9 p.m., Full Frame Theatre, American Tobacco Campus

Speaker: John W. Franklin, Senior Manager, Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History & Culture

Feb. 10: “My Lifelong Friendship with Dr. Franklin”

11:35 a.m., NCCU Student Union lobby

Speaker: Walter Brown, former dean, NCCU Department of Education

April 1: Distinguished Lecture

6:30 p.m., Sanford School of Public Policy

Speaker: Historian Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, Harvard University

Oct. 30: World Premiere Commission for JHF 100th

8 p.m., Baldwin Auditorium, Duke University

Composer: Frederic Rzewski

Musicians: Imani Winds and Fisk Jubilee Singers

Nov. 5-7: John Hope Franklin Centenary Symposium

Nasher Museum of Art & John Hope Franklin Center

Speaker: Drew Faust, president, Harvard University

Franklin’s 1947 book, “From Slavery to Freedom,” completed while he taught at what is now North Carolina Central University, transformed the literature of American history, selling more than 3 million copies. Through that work, and multiple additional volumes, Franklin has been widely credited with helping to create the field of African-American history. He was perhaps best known for his work as chairman of Clinton’s 1997 national advisory board on race.

“On this, the 100th anniversary of John Hope Franklin's birth, we celebrate the life of a national hero. Born at the height of Jim Crow oppression, he embodied the struggle of black Americans to steadfastly resist white racism,” said William Chafe, Duke history professor emeritus and co-chair of the centenary organizing committee.

“No one did more to focus attention on the fundamental contradiction between racism and democracy, and in this year of his centenary, we celebrate -- and remember -- all he did to make us live up to his dream of racial justice and dignity," Chafe said.

After years of teaching at the North Carolina College for Negroes --now St. Augustine's University--, Brooklyn College and the University of Chicago, Franklin came to Duke in 1982, where for the last three decades of his life he served as the James B. Duke Professor Emeritus of History. He spent seven years as professor of legal history at the Duke Law School, where he has been honored with an endowed chair.

Franklin received numerous scholarly awards during his long career, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor. He served as president of several scholarly organizations, including the Southern Historical Association, the American Historical Association and the Organization of American Historians. And he was the recipient of more than 130 honorary degrees.

At Duke, Franklin's legacy has been honored in many ways. In 2001, Duke opened the John Hope Franklin Center for Interdisciplinary and International Studies, which became an intellectual home for the Franklin Humanities Institute, an initiative encouraging collaboration across disciplines. In 2006 he delivered Duke's commencement address. After celebrating his 90th birthday in January 2005, Duke held a symposium celebrating the 10th anniversary of the John Hope Franklin Collection of African & African American Documentation. The event also marked the publication of his autobiography, “Mirror to America.”

For more information on the John Hope Franklin Centenary, including updates and a complete listing of events, visit jhf100.duke.edu



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