John Hope Franklin: A personal journey into America's past





Tell John Hope Franklin that he's the Rosa Parks of historians and he lets out a long, astonished laugh.

"Please," he says.

Okay, we won't push him on that right now. But the comparison is not as silly as he makes it sound.

Franklin is in Washington this week to talk about his newly published autobiography, "Mirror to America." Now an emeritus professor at Duke, he's a handsome, white-haired man in a gray suit whose upright bearing makes him seem far younger than his 90 years. Fellow historian David Levering Lewis has described him as "a pioneer scholar; a splendid humanist; a shining model to generations of students, scholars, and activists," as well as "a man of prodigious generosity, prudent counsel, and unaffected grace."

Tuesday he spoke at the Library of Congress. Yesterday he did "The Diane Rehm Show" on WAMU-FM and spoke at Politics & Prose in Northwest Washington.

A lot has changed in Franklin's 90 years. Some things have not.


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