Dr. John Hope Franklin was a towering American historian whose singular contributions to the development of our nation’s education in African American history had a powerful impact on civil rights advances in the mid-20th Century. Dr. Franklin, who died last week at age 94, was a renowned scholar who worked alongside such giants as Thurgood Marshall and Dr. Martin Luther King.
Dr. Franklin’s landmark scholarship on slavery in the 1940’s and 1950’s contributed the significant historical backbone to the advocacy of Thurgood Marshall in Brown v. Board of Education, the Supreme Court case that triggered the great era of civil rights laws and legislation mandating equality of opportunity and an end to segregation. Recent reports reveal that Dr. Franklin remained unhappy with the reality of public education where too many Black children remain profoundly segregated not only by race but also by social class. Tools like standardized testing have replaced outright bigotry as the means for enforcing segregation.
As a tribute to this great scholar and civil rights leader, and to find inspiration to continue his life’s work in our own, I urge all members of the Trinity community to take the time to read his biography “Mirror to America.”