Segments in this Video

Fighting Racism in America (03:36)


John Hope Franklin received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Bill Clinton for his scholarly work telling the untold stories of Northern racism as well as stories from people within the confines of slavery. Franklin talks about his careful approach to his groundbreaking historical study of race relations within the society of the United States.

Franklin's Family History (05:57)

Franklin's grandfather was a slave who ran away to join the Union Army during the Civil War; as a freedman who was part Chickasaw, he was given 160 acres of land in Native American territory of Oklahoma. Franklin shares the story of his Oklahoma heritage and why and how his family decided to leave the region.

Segregation and Rioting (05:10)

After a an accident involving an African American man and a white woman was distorted into an incident of sexual assault, the nation saw widespread rioting across a three year period. The African American community in Tulsa was rebuilt and became a thriving business community filled with so many entrepreneurs it was dubbed the "Black Wall Street of America."

Franklin's Education and Early Career (04:16)

Greenwood became a bustling community following the Tulsa Riots. Greenwood was unable to overcome the devastation of the freeway project and urban renewal becoming a silent city. Franklin attended Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee where he met his future wife Aurelia Whittington and began studying history.

Racism at Harvard University (07:07)

Franklin confronted anti-Semitism at Harvard. University President Abbott Lawrence Lowell had stated the African American students did not have the same right to the dormitories and facilities as the white students. His doctoral thesis was inspired by a research paper he had written at Fisk University about freed slaves in the Antebellum South prior to the Civil War.

Revising History (06:56)

Franklin describes his fight against the widely accepted history of the American South, which argued African Americans controlled the legislation and voting machines in every southern state. According to Franklin, government corruption during reconstruction was bi-racial, bi-partisan, and inter-sexual, and there was more corruption in northern communities than any southern state. Historian C. Vann Woodward invited Franklin to read a paper before the Southern Historical Association of which he later became the president.

Franklin's Legal and Teaching Career Flourish (07:14)

The Supreme Court handed down several decisions Franklin and other scholars helped shape involving civil rights in American society, the most infamous of which was Brown versus the Board of Education. Following the Supreme Court decision, Franklin became the first African American chairman of the History Department at Brooklyn College.

Franklin Confronts the Founding Fathers (08:36)

Franklin moved on to teach graduate students at the University of Chicago and was later asked by the National Foundation for the Humanities to give the Jefferson Lecture in Washington. Franklin described what people mean when they title him a revisionist historian. Franklin talks about Martin Luther King Jr. and the significance of his position and work in American society; hear a speech given by MLK at the Lincoln Memorial.

Franklin's Hobbies and Late Career (04:04)

Franklin has been associated with the National Humanities Center since 1979 and now plays a central role in the American Issues Forum which sets out to solve practical, everyday problems within American society. Franklin is also a hobbyist orchid grower who has had an orchard named after him. He continues his groundbreaking writing and research at Duke University.

Credits: John Hope Franklin (01:04)

Credits: John Hope Franklin

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Track the career of octogenarian John Hope Franklin, the historian who rewrote U.S. history. His major work, FROM SLAVERY TO FREEDOM, forever changed historians' perceptions of the African-American role in building America. Franklin describes the difficulties of growing up black in America: slights, strife, opportunities denied. Yet against a grim backdrop, his indomitable spirit shines through, in an uplifting tale of triumph over adversity.

Length: 56 minutes

Item#: BVL151118

Copyright date: ©1997

Closed Captioned

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