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John Hope Franklin, RIP

The renowned historian, John Hope Franklin (Harvard Ph.D. 1941), died today (3/25/09) of congestive heart failure at Duke University Hospital in Durham, North Carolina.  He was ninety-four years old and left a legacy of scholarship and advocacy for civil and human rights that combined the erudition and audacity of two of his heroes:  W. E. B. DuBois and Frederick Douglass.

Having lived through the notorious 1921 Tulsa Race Riot in his native Oklahoma and also long enough to witness Barack Obama’s inauguration as President of the United States, John Hope Franklin was more than a scholar of history, he WAS history.

He was one of those rare human beings where the “Why of his death?” is so diminished by the “What of his life?” that we never associated him with an “end.”  Somehow we thought that John Hope Franklin would go on forever.  Maybe we were confusing his humanity and prodigious scholarship with his mortality.  Such is understandable (and maybe not far off) to those who followed his extraordinary life.

Psalms 90:10 states that “The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years…”

Well, John Hope Franklin was blessed with FOURSCORE AND FOURTEEN years!!

Need I say  more?

David Evans

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