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John Whittington Franklin Visits Tulsa to Celebrate Father's Namesake School

School leaders, teachers, students, and community members gathered to celebrate the historic moment as the ribbon was cut on the new John Hope Franklin Elementary School.

“We are a proud community who believes in educating the whole child by providing an equitable, joyful, top-notch learning experience where academic excellence is what we do,” said Principal Kelley Blakney. “We will help to raise young leaders in these classrooms, and we know that when our students move on from John Hope Franklin Elementary school to begin their middle school experiences, they will continue to carry the spirit of that very mission with them as they grow.”

The name John Hope Franklin was selected by an ad hoc naming committee led by Ebony Johnson, the executive director of student and family support services. Many names were considered, but Franklin stood out as a Tulsan of global significance.

“Here in Tulsa when you see or hear the name John Hope Franklin you think about justice, you think about advocacy, you think about leadership, you think about tenacity, but you also think about the importance of transformation, trust, and reconciliation,” said Superintendent Dr. Deborah Gist. “That’s what we're all doing together as we’re working together to build a brighter future for our students.”

Franklin’s son, John Whittington Franklin, was the honored guest at the ceremony. He spoke about the legacy of teaching in his family and presented books to be added to the school’s library. The texts included My Life and an Era, the autobiography of Buck Colbert Franklin; Mirror to America, the autobiography of John Hope Franklin; and From Slavery to Freedom, Franklin’s best-known work.

“These are essential to knowing who John Hope Franklin is, how he became who he was, and his importance to this nation and the world,” he explained, as he gave the books to the principal.

Franklin and Principal Blakney were joined by two students to cut the ribbon and open the school, as other members of the school community revealed the new signs to the crowd.

“We are world changers here at John Hope Franklin Elementary, and I’m excited for us to change the world together over the coming school year,” said Principal Blakney. "I’m really looking forward to welcoming our students and families on the first day of school."