John H. Franklin earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Fisk University in 1935 and his Master of Arts degree and Ph. D. in History from Harvard University in 1936 and 1941, respectively.
John H. Franklin’s teaching career began at Fisk University. From 1947 to 1956, he taught at Howard University and from 1956 to 1964 served as chair of the history department at Brooklyn College, the first person of color to head a major history department. From 1964 to 1968, Franklin was a Professor of History at the University of Chicago and chair of the department from 1967 to 1970. In 1983, he was appointed the James B. Duke Professor of History at Duke University.
John H. Franklin published his autobiography, “Mirror to America: The Autobiography of John Hope Franklin,” in 2005. In it he said “My challenge was to weave into the fabric of American history enough of the presence of Blacks so that the story of the United States could be told adequately and fairly.”
John H. Franklin authored numerous other books, including “The Free Negro in North Carolina, 1790-1860” (1943) and “Racial Equality in America” (1976). In 1976, the National Endowment for the Humanities selected Franklin for the Jefferson Lecture, the federal government’s highest honor for achievement in the humanities.
On September 29, 1995, Franklin was presented the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, by President William Clinton.
Other honors and awards include the Charles Frankel Prize in 1993, the NAACP Spingarn Medal in 1995, and the John W. Kluge Prize in 2006 for lifetime achievement in the study of humanity.
John Hope Franklin began his transition March 25, 2009.
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