John Hope Franklin: Historian criticizes Cherokee Nation for excluding slave descendants

Historians in the News

Nationally recognized historian John Hope Franklin, a 92-year-old native of Oklahoma, criticized the Cherokee Nation Friday for a recent tribal vote that excluded descendants of Cherokee slaves from tribal membership.

He said no group should try to disassociate itself from another group that for so long has been part of its history.

“I just think it is scandalous, really,” Franklin said.

Cherokee Chief Chad Smith has said that as a sovereign nation, the tribe has a right to determine its identity.

In a round-table discussion with reporters at the Oklahoma History Center, Franklin said he also did not understand all the speculation about whether the United States is “ready” for a woman president or a black president.

“I can certainly tell you, I’ve been ready all of my life,” said Franklin, co-author of the classic text, “From Slavery to Freedom,” which soon will be in its 9th edition.

“Even Liberia has a woman leader,” he said, before rattling off a long list of nations that have been led by women.

Franklin was born in Rentisville and graduated from Tulsa’s Booker T. Washington High School in 1931, a decade after the Tulsa race riot. His father, B.C. Franklin, was an attorney who handled lawsuits stemming from the riot.
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