Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2009

John Hope Franklin

John Hope Franklin had a calling. as a supersmart youth in the depths of segregation, he was born to do war with racism. But while others expected him to become a lawyer, he resolved to be a historian. He rejoiced in this vocation and, more than anyone else, taught us that American history and African-American history are inseparably intertwined. To the end of his long life, racial prejudice filled him with fresh indignation, though he was never entrapped in indignation. He had a vast curiosity, a genius for friendship and always a wonderful gleam in his eye — a sign that he loved the human spectacle in all its astonishing forms.

—Richard H. Brodhead

Brodhead is the president of Duke University