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John Hope Franklin Remembered by Historian and Author Paul Gaston

Noted historian and scholar John Hope Franklin died Wednesday, March 25, 2009 at the age of 94. He was the author of the bestselling book From Slavery to Freedom and known for his work on the Brown v. Board of Education court case.

Paul M. Gaston of the University of Virginia, author of The New South Creed and the forthcoming Coming of Age in Utopia: The Odyssey of an Idea (NewSouth, 2009) sent this remembrance:

I saw John Hope for the last time two years ago. I was in a large auditorium where he was to speak about his autobiography. He entered by a side door, spied me, walked to where I was standing and gave me one of those John Hope Franklin bear hugs with which I had been familiar for almost half a century. He stood tall as he strode toward me, shoulders back, smile broad. He was 92 at the time and I thought he must be immortal. 

The world knows John Hope through the multitude of his books, essays, and speeches that have shed powerful light on the hopes, failures, achievements, and complexities of our nation. The hundreds and more who have known him up close, as counselor and friend, are now bereft of one who was always there with praise and prodding, formed by his abiding care for who we were, what we needed, and how he might help.

John Hope Franklin recently contributed an introduction to Jim Crow and Me: Stories from My Life as a Civil Rights Lawyer by Solomon Seay, from NewSouth Books.

Read John Hope Franklin’s obituary from the Associated Press.