Saturday, November 7, 2015

Drew Gilpin Faust on John Hope Franklin

Drew Gilpin Faust, the President of Harvard University and historian of the American South, recently spoke at Duke University as part of a series of lectures honoring the late American historian John Hope Franklin.

Franklin is a scholar that younger historians should know about.

Here's a taste of a piece at the Harvard Gazette on Faust's talk:

DURHAM, N.C. — John Hope Franklin, a scholar who helped create the field of African-American history, was instrumental both in documenting America’s long and long-ignored legacy of slavery and racism and in reaffirming the continuing importance of that history, Harvard President Drew Faust said during an event Thursday evening commemorating his life and scholarship.
“John Hope Franklin wrote history — discovering neglected and forgotten dimensions of the past, mining archives with creativity and care, building in the course of his career a changed narrative of the American experience and the meaning of race within it,” she said. “But John Hope also meditated about history and its place in the world, on its role as action as well as description, on history itself as causal agent, and on the writing of history as mission as well as profession.”
Franklin was born in 1915 and raised in segregated Oklahoma. Graduating from Fisk University in 1935, he earned a Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1941. Over the course of his career, he held faculty posts at a number of institutions, including Howard University and the University of Chicago, before being appointed in 1983 the James B. Duke Professor of History at Duke University. “From Slavery to Freedom: A History of African-Americans,” published in 1947, is still considered a definitive account of the black experience in America. A lecture series later published as a book, “Racial Equality in America,” became another of his most iconic works. Franklin died in 2009.
An American historian herself, Faust gave the keynote address in the last of a yearlong series of events as part of the John Hope Franklin Centenary, sponsored by Duke University to mark the 100th anniversary of his birth.
Reflecting on both the raging debate about the state of race relations in America after violent incidents in such locations as Ferguson, Mo., as well as on the glimpses of progress that came in their wake — including the removal of the Confederate flag from near the South Carolina capitol — Faust argued that Americans must remember our “shameful legacy” as we take stock of where we stand today.