John Hope Franklin misses Obama inauguration

Historians in the News

John Hope Franklin, an iconic figure in both contemporary and historic African-American life, was unable to attend the inauguration of President Obama. Although Dr. Franklin had been in Washington the Sunday before to attend the African American Church Inaugural Ball, his personal secretary told HNN that he was unable to attend the Presidential Inauguration on Tuesday, January 20th, on account of bad health.

Born July 2, 1915, Franklin is the James B. Duke Professor Emeritus of History at Duke University. Franklin has published a wealth of literature dealing with the African-American experience, including From Slavery to Freedom: A History of African-Americans, and his recent autobiography, Mirror To America. He has received several presidential appointments at organizations such as the National Council on the Humanities, the Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy, the Advisory Commission on Ambassadorial Appointments, and on the advisory board of President Clinton’s One America: The President’s Initiative on Race. In 1995, President Clinton awarded Dr. Franklin the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.

Franklin was an important contributor to the Civil Rights movement, working under Thurgood Marshall on the Brown v. Board of Education case.

In April, Franklin officially endorsed Mr. Obama’s candidacy for president, arguing, “Senator Obama is a truly exceptional leader who understands the struggles of people from all walks of life.” Following the election, in a November 2008 interview with Duke University, Franklin commented that President Obama’s victory was “one of the most historic moments, if not the most historic moment, in the history of this country.”

Although Franklin was unable to attend the inauguration, he reportedly was able to meet the President prior to the election, later commenting that Mr. Obama is “a winner.”

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