John Hope Franklin, scholar and historian dies at the age of 94

Historian John Hope Franklin passed away on Wednesday in North Carolina at the age of 94.  Franklin was born in Rentiesville, Oklahoma, in 1915.  He spent his career studying the subject of race and its effect on individuals and society.

Franklin earned a bachelor’s degree from Fisk University in 1935, and his master’s and doctorate degrees from Harvard in 1936 and 1941.  I tend to link Mr. Franklin with his thoughts on the Tulsa Race Riots and the tragedy of Black Wall Street in 1921.  I’d like to share some of his testimony before the House Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties in 2007 from the Legal History Blog.

My father was born in the Indian territory and grew up in Oklahoma. He lived through the Tulsa race riot in 1921. I moved to Tulsa when I was ten years old, just four years after the Tulsa riot, and witnessed first-hand the impact the riot had on Tulsa….

I observed and have concluded the 1921 riot had a devastating impact on Tulsa that lasted for decades. In my public statements and published work, I have recounted my view that a culture of silence and official negligence descended on the white community of Tulsa in the years after the riot, and persisted for several decades, and my view that in Tulsa’s black community in the ensuing decades, after the economic and physical destruction of the riot, the difficulty of rebuilding, and the indifference or worse of the white community, a public silence among blacks also settled in, even while they privately remembered and feared the riot and its aftermath.

Some of the titles written by Franklin include The Color Line: Legacy for the Twenty-first Century, Three Negro Classics, and The Negro and the New Deal.  Read more on the life of Mr. Franklin from The Associated Press, and John Hope Franklin: No Soft Spot for Media by Ron Prince of the Maynard Institute.

Biographical sketch from John Hope Franklin Center.

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