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Dr. John Hope Franklin (1915-2009) was an historian, educator, and activist. He is best known for writing From Slavery to Freedom. In 1995, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Clinton.

Franklin was born in Rentiesville, Oklahoma. He graduated as valedictorian from Booker T. Washington High School, and then went on to receive his undergraduate degree from Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee and his doctorate from Harvard.

After graduating from Harvard, Franklin began his teaching career. He taught at Fisk University, St. Augustine’s College, North Carolina Central University (formerly the North Carolina College for Negroes), Howard University, Brooklyn College, the University of Chicago, and Duke University.

In early 2001, Duke University opened the John Hope Franklin Center for Interdisciplinary and International Studies. Inspired by Franklin’s example, the John Hope Franklin Center strives to provide a safe, collaborative space to investigate moral and ethical issues. Until his death in 2009, Franklin held an office at the Franklin Center and regularly engaged in scholarly exchanges.

Franklin enjoyed the outdoors and traveled frequently to fly-fish. Another of his passions was horticulture. In his greenhouse in Durham, he nurtured an expansive orchid collection, which featured more than 300 orchids, including Phalaenopsis hybrids named after both John Hope Franklin and his beloved, Aurelia Franklin.

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We must go beyond textbooks, go out into the bypaths and untrodden depths of the wilderness and travel and explore and tell the world the glories of our journey.

- John Hope Franklin