Home |  PublicationsEncyclopedia |  Franklin, John Hope

The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture

John Hope Franklin
(Oklahoma Historical Society Publications Division, OHS).

FRANKLIN, JOHN HOPE (1915–2009).

Historian John Hope Franklin was born in Rentiesville, Oklahoma, on January 2, 1915, to Buck Colbert and Mollie Parker Franklin. The family moved to Tulsa in 1925, and young Franklin attended public schools, graduating from Booker T. Washington High School. His father was a pioneer African American attorney in Tulsa. Franklin received a bachelor of arts degree in 1935 from Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee. He then received a master's degree and Ph.D. in history from Harvard University in 1936 and 1941, respectively.

Franklin has had a distinguished career as a historian and educator. He has served as professor at Fisk University, Saint Augustine's College (Raleigh, North Carolina), North Carolina Central University (Durham), and Howard University (Washington, D.C.). Subsequently, he chaired the Department of History at Brooklyn College and has been John Matthews Manly Distinguished Service Professor of History at the University of Chicago, James B. Duke Professor of History at Duke University, Fulbright Professor in Australia, and Pitt Professor of American History and Institutions at Cambridge University, England. He also served as visiting professor at Harvard University, the University of Wisconsin, Cornell University, the University of California at Berkeley, and the University of Hawaii. In 1997 and 1998 he chaired the Advisory Board of the President's Initiative on Race. He has been active in civic and professional life for more than sixty years.

Franklin is the former president of the Southern Historical Association, the Organization of American Historians, the American Studies Association, the American Historical Association, and the National Society of Phi Beta Kappa. His many awards include a Presidential Medal of Freedom (1995), the Jefferson Medal of the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (1984), the Clarence Holte Literary Prize (1985), the Jefferson Medal of the American Philosophical Society, and the National Endowment for Humanities Charles Frankel Award (presented by President William J. Clinton in 1993). He has been inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame (1978) and the Afro-American Hall of Fame (Ntu Art Association, 1984). Other honors include the Peggy V. Helmerich Distinguished Author Award (Tulsa Library Trust, 1997), the Arrell Gibson Lifetime Achievement Award (1996), the Lincoln Prize for the book Runaway Slaves: Rebels on the Plantation (2000), and the Harold Washington Literary Award (2000). He holds more than 130 honorary doctorates.

Among the books written or edited by Franklin are The Free Negro in North Carolina, 1790–1860 (1943), From Slavery to Freedom: A History of American Negroes (1947), The Militant South, 1800–1860 (1956), Reconstruction after the Civil War (1961), The Emancipation Proclamation (1963), Color and Race (1969), Racial Equality in America (1976), George Washington Williams: A Biography (1985), Race and History, Selected Essays (1989), The Color Line: Legacy for the Twenty-First Century (1993), and My Life and an Era: The Autobiography of Buck Colbert Franklin (edited by John Hope Franklin and John Whittington Franklin, 1997).

Franklin and Aurelia Whittington of Goldsboro, North Carolina, were married on June 11, 1940, and to this marriage, one son, John Whittington, was born. Mrs. Franklin died in 1999. John Hope Franklin died on March 25, 2009.

Hannah Atkins


Jimmie Lewis Franklin, Journey Toward Hope: A History of Blacks in Oklahoma (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1982).

Eddie Faye Gates, They Came Searching: How Blacks Sought The Promised Land in Tulsa (Austin, Tex.: Eakin Press, 1997).

Kaye Teall, Black History in Oklahoma: A Resource Book (Oklahoma City: Oklahoma City Public Schools, 1971). Tulsa (Oklahoma) Eagle, 16 March 2000.


The following (as per The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition) is the preferred citation for articles:
Hannah Atkins, “Franklin, John Hope,” The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, https://www.okhistory.org/publications/enc/entry?entry=FR003.

Copyright and Terms of Use

No part of this site may be construed as in the public domain.

Copyright to all articles and other content in the online and print versions of The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History is held by the Oklahoma Historical Society (OHS). This includes individual articles (copyright to OHS by author assignment) and corporately (as a complete body of work), including web design, graphics, searching functions, and listing/browsing methods. Copyright to all of these materials is protected under United States and International law.

Users agree not to download, copy, modify, sell, lease, rent, reprint, or otherwise distribute these materials, or to link to these materials on another web site, without authorization of the Oklahoma Historical Society. Individual users must determine if their use of the Materials falls under United States copyright law's "Fair Use" guidelines and does not infringe on the proprietary rights of the Oklahoma Historical Society as the legal copyright holder of The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and part or in whole.