RALEIGH, N.C. — John Hope Franklin, a pioneer of African-American studies who worked on the landmark Supreme Court case that outlawed public school segregation, died Wednesday, according to The Associated Press. He was 94.
Franklin died of congestive heart failure at Duke University’s hospital in Durham, David Jarmul, a university spokesman, told the AP.
As an author, his book From Slavery to Freedom was a landmark integration of black history into American history that remains relevant more than 60 years after it was published.
As a scholar, his research helped Thurgood Marshall and his team at the NAACP win Brown v. Board of Education, the 1954 case that barred the doctrine of “separate but equal” in the nation’s public schools, the AP reported.
Franklin himself broke numerous color barriers. He was the first black department chair at a predominantly white institution, Brooklyn College; the first black professor to hold an endowed chair at Duke; and the first black president of the American Historical Association.
Franklin was the 1995 recipient of the NAACP Spingarn Medal, the association’s highest honor, given for distinguished merit and achievement among Americans of African descent.
“America has lost a real treasure with the death of John Hope Franklin,’’ NAACP Chairman Julian Bond and NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous said in a joint email statement released to the media.
“He was a pioneer in democratizing American history, giving black Americans a proper place in the development of the United States,” the NAACP joint statement continued. “His magnificent work, From Slavery to Freedom, ensures people of color will not be forgotten when the American story is told. He was more than America’s most prominent historian – his civic activism set a high standard for academics, marching in Selma, serving on numerous commissions and advising presidents. He is irreplaceable and will be much missed.’’
Although he was often frustrated by racism’s stubborn power, he refused to give up.
“I want to be out there on the firing line, helping, directing or doing something to try to make this a better world, a better place to live,” Franklin told The Associated Press in 2005.
In November, after President Barack Obama broke the ultimate racial barrier in American politics, Franklin – according to the AP – called his ascension to the White House “one of the most historic moments, if not the most historic moment, in the history of this country.”
Pictured above is John Hope Franklin.