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Reactions to historian John Hope Franklin's death

Associated Press | 4/1/2009, 8:54 a.m.
John Hope Franklin is shown in this July 18, 1997, file photo in Durham, N.C. During a sterling career in which he was revered as a towering scholar and a prodigious author, Franklin was instrumental in bringing down the legal and historical validations of racism and discrimination within American culture. AP /Raleigh News and Observer, Chuck Liddy

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John Hope Franklin is shown in this July 18, 1997, file photo in Durham, N.C. During a sterling career in which he was revered as a towering scholar and a prodigious author, Franklin was instrumental in bringing down the legal and historical validations of racism and discrimination within American culture.

“Because of the life John Hope Franklin lived, the public service he rendered, and the scholarship that was the mark of his distinguished career, we all have a richer understanding of who we are as Americans and our journey as a people. Dr. Franklin will be deeply missed, but his legacy is one that will surely endure. Michelle and I send our thoughts and prayers to his loved ones, as our nation mourns his loss.”


“John Hope Franklin was one of the most important American historians of the 20th century and one of the people I most admired. I was honored he agreed to be the head of the President’s Initiative on Race. He led his committee all over America to listen to people of all races, faiths, cultures and classes. And he produced a remarkable report on the ways in which we remain divided along color lines and what we can do about it. During the process, we became friends and I learned a lot from him about history, politics and life. He graced our country with his life, his scholarship, and his citizenship. Hillary and I will miss him very much. Our hearts and prayers go out to his family and friends.”

“The preeminent voice and witness for America’s sojourn from slavery to freedom has been silenced physically. But his writings, research, interpretation and legacy will live forever. I talked with him as a student and walked the University of Chicago campus with him. He was who I went to first for advice and counsel. All of his students felt that we were his prize possession. He made us feel that way. In the family of American historians he sits in a high seat and occupies a high place.”


“By always telling the truth to America and the world about history, he steered our conscience in such a way that constantly made it uncomfortable to accept the status quo. He reminded us that we must do more than merely apologize for the pain of the past, but we also must make amends.”


“John Hope Franklin was a tremendous leader, historian and friend to North Carolina and to the nation. He personified giving and his work to advance the understanding of African American contributions was unmatched by any other. He will be sadly missed.”


“With the passing of John Hope Franklin, North Carolina has lost a great scholar and a moral compass for all of us. He inspired with his words and with his teaching, and he set an unsurpassed example of courage, leadership and commitment. From John Hope Franklin we learned about history, but we also learned the way to chart a new path of justice and opportunity for our state and our nation.”


“Dr. Franklin was a worldwide figure, a seminal author and a man of immeasurable insight. We were privileged in North Carolina for so long to have near immediate access to such a rich mind. We will all miss his lessons and we mourn for his loss.”