Renowned history scholar passes away

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March 27, 2009

5:05 AM

The academic community lost one of its most distinguished historians when John Hope Franklin died of congestive heart failure in a Durham, N.C. hospital.

He was 94.

Franklin was awarded an honorary doctorate of humane letters at the College of William and Mary’s Feb. 7 Charter Day celebration.

The award was given in absentia as Franklin no longer traveled due to his health.

By honoring Franklin, the College recognized a distinguished career that spanned over sixty years of historical writing and research.

After graduating from Fisk University and gaining a doctorate from Harvard University, Franklin taught at some of the world’s most prestigious universities.

Franklin was also active in politics.

He often testified before Congress and served on numerous presidential commissions on race.
Many of his writings are required reading at colleges around the country.

The notoriety Franklin gained through his historical work made possible the successes of many future African-American scholars including Henry Louis Gates Jr., , and legitimized the academic field of black studies at American universities.

“A lot of us called John Hope ‘the Prince,’” Gates said to the New York Times. “He had such a regal bearing. We’re all the children of John Hope.”

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