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Reactions to historian John Hope Franklin’s death

Reactions to historian John Hope Franklin’s death
John Hope Franklin is shown in this July 18, 1997, file photo in Durham, N.C. During a sterling career in which he was revered as a towering scholar and a prodigious author, Franklin was instrumental in bringing down the legal and historical validations of racism and discrimination within American culture. (Photo: AP /Raleigh News and Observer, Chuck Liddy)

Author: APJohn Hope Franklin is shown in this July 18, 1997, file photo in Durham, N.C. During a sterling career in which he was revered as a towering scholar and a prodigious author, Franklin was instrumental in bringing down the legal and historical validations of racism and discrimination within American culture.

“Because of the life John Hope Franklin lived, the public service he rendered, and the scholarship that was the mark of his distinguished career, we all have a richer understanding of who we are as Americans and our journey as a people. Dr. Franklin will be deeply missed, but his legacy is one that will surely endure. Michelle and I send our thoughts and prayers to his loved ones, as our nation mourns his loss.”

“John Hope Franklin was one of the most important American historians of the 20th century and one of the people I most admired. I was honored he agreed to be the head of the President’s Initiative on Race. He led his committee all over America to listen to people of all races, faiths, cultures and classes. And he produced a remarkable report on the ways in which we remain divided along color lines and what we can do about it. During the process, we became friends and I learned a lot from him about history, politics and life. He graced our country with his life, his scholarship, and his citizenship. Hillary and I will miss him very much. Our hearts and prayers go out to his family and friends.”

“The preeminent voice and witness for America’s sojourn from slavery to freedom has been silenced physically. But his writings, research, interpretation and legacy will live forever. I talked with him as a student and walked the University of Chicago campus with him. He was who I went to first for advice and counsel. All of his students felt that we were his prize possession. He made us feel that way. In the family of American historians he sits in a high seat and occupies a high place.”

“By always telling the truth to America and the world about history, he steered our conscience in such a way that constantly made it uncomfortable to accept the status quo. He reminded us that we must do more than merely apologize for the pain of the past, but we also must make amends.”

“John Hope Franklin was a tremendous leader, historian and friend to North Carolina and to the nation. He personified giving and his work to advance the understanding of African American contributions was unmatched by any other. He will be sadly missed.”

“With the passing of John Hope Franklin, North Carolina has lost a great scholar and a moral compass for all of us. He inspired with his words and with his teaching, and he set an unsurpassed example of courage, leadership and commitment. From John Hope Franklin we learned about history, but we also learned the way to chart a new path of justice and opportunity for our state and our nation.”

“Dr. Franklin was a worldwide figure, a seminal author and a man of immeasurable insight. We were privileged in North Carolina for so long to have near immediate access to such a rich mind. We will all miss his lessons and we mourn for his loss.”

“John Hope Franklin lived for nearly a century and helped define that century. A towering historian, he led the recognition that African American history and American history are one. With his grasp of the past, he spent a lifetime building a future of inclusiveness, fairness and equality. Duke has lost a great citizen and a great friend.”

“I worked with John Hope Franklin and was inspired by him. His values were infectious. Through his example and his writings, he helped me to see more clearly the struggles of African Americans and the continuing obligation we all have to bring about true equal opportunity for all Americans. He was a great, great man.”

“The world has lost a brilliant scholar. A proud Oklahoman, John Hope Franklin was among the greatest historians of our time. His seminal work, ‘From Slavery to Freedom,’ is one of the great books of the 20th century, but John Hope Franklin’s entire life was dedicated to the pursuit of truth. I was, and am, a devoted admirer of his work. This remarkable, legendary man will be sorely missed, but his contributions to our understanding of history will last forever.”

“Dr. Franklin’s voice will certainly not be silenced by his passing. His legacy is one that will live on through his passion for educating the generations of Americans who have sought his wisdom.”

“One of the great stories of his life is his dignity in the face of the kind of rampant racism that existed. When he first did research at Duke in the 1940s, he could use the manuscript collection, but he could not eat his lunch or use the bathroom because it was segregated. And he never lost his sense of empowerment in the face of that kind of treatment.”

“I think about a phrase my father uses — a gentleman and a scholar. He was both of those things. His honesty and his integrity and his restraint were coupled with a passionate devotion to his craft and to his country. He had a fierce sense of commitment to public scholarship, the kind of scholarship that matters.”

“I cannot think of anyone whose scholarly work and passion has enlightened America with more impact on issues related to equity, excellence and diversity. The legacy he leaves is immeasurable.”

“Those of us lucky enough to have shared his University of Chicago years recall his boundless energy, his fairness and probity, and his good humor as he was simultaneously leading a department, traveling the world, running agencies, serving on commissions, giving countless lectures, and offering counsel. John Hope enjoyed people, and people enjoyed John Hope. Everything he did, from his cooking to his orchid growing, was extraordinary. Lucky indeed it was to know him and be put in touch with the energies and spirit of a great man.”

(Associated Press)