John Hope Franklin on an Obama Presidency

Esteemed historian reacts to a historic race, one he never believed he would witness in his lifetime.

“He has shown an ability to bridge the divides in our society and unite people behind his agenda for change,” he said in his endorsement.

Franklin believes “bridging divides” is necessary to heal this country’s deep racial wounds, and he has spent a good portion of his lifetime trying to achieve that goal. He chaired President Clinton’s 1997 national advisory board on race and is revered as a “moral leader” of the historical profession for his engagement in the pressing issues of the day, his unflagging advocacy of civil rights and his gracious and courtly demeanor.

A life-long educator, Franklin will be honored later this month for his contributions and adherence to academic excellence during a two-day symposium featuring nationally recognized scholars at Duke and beyond.

The celebration is well-earned. Franklin has not only written about history but he’s lived it, working on the Brown v. Board of Education case, marching on Washington in 1963, and in Selma in 1965 with Martin Luther King Jr. Most recently, he has taken on reparations.

Last year Franklin urged Congress to pass legislation that would clear the way for survivors of the Tulsa Race Riots of 1921, one of the nation’s worst race riots, to sue for reparations.