Thursday, March 26, 2009

John Hope Franklin (1915-2009)

Jelani Cobb on the passing of a giant:
"Dr. Franklin was part of that generation who understood scholarship as a form of activism, a small, desperately outnumbered band who set out to assault the edifice of false knowledge that upheld inequality. His life literally connects the dark onset of Jim Crow to the election of Barack Obama. There are literally dozens of things that could be said about his contributions but consider this one: it was his historical research that Thurgood Marshall relied upon in writing his arguments for the Brown v. Board of Education case."
From The Associated Press's obit:
"In 1985, Franklin was in New York to receive the Clarence Holte Literary Award for his biography of historian George Washington Williams, a 40-year project for which he was a runner-up for the Pulitzer Prize. The next morning, he and his wife were unable to hail a taxi in front of their hotel. Ten years later, when he was to receive the [Presidential Medal of Freedom], Franklin hosted a party for some friends at Washington’s Cosmos Club, of which he had long been a member. A white woman walked up to him, handed him a slip of paper and demanded that he get her coat. He politely told the woman that any of the uniformed attendants, 'and they were all in uniform,' would be happy to assist her."
Still more here.

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