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Race in America: Looking Back, Looking Forward

1847th Stated Meeting - Cambridge
John Hope Franklin (Duke University)
With an introduction by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. (Harvard University)
May 9, 2001

The Academy concluded its series of five communications on inequality in America with a talk by one of this country's most eminent historians, John Hope Franklin. Drawing on his extensive research on the history of race in America, he reflected on the trials and achievements of African-Americans in the past and the challenges they face in the future.

Mr. Franklin's numerous publications include The Emancipation Proclamation, The Militant South, The Free Negro in North Carolina, Reconstruction After the Civil War, and A Southern Odyssey: Travelers in the Antebellum North. His classic work, From Slavery to Freedom: A History of African-Americans, was originally published in 1947 and is now in its eighth edition (2000). The book spans the period from ancestral Africa to the present, with each new edition offering an updated examination of the struggle toward racial equality, the accompanying setbacks, and unfolding social change. In 1990, a collection of essays covering his teaching and writing career of fifty years was published as Race and History: Selected Essays, 1938-1988.

The recipient of many honors, Mr. Franklin has been awarded the Jefferson Medal of the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education, the NAACP's Springarn Medal, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor. In addition he has received honorary degrees from more than one hundred colleges and universities. Throughout his career, he has served on many national commissions and delegations, most recently as the chair of the advisory board for President Clinton's Initiative on Race. He is the past president of the American Studies Association, the Southern Historical Association, the United Chapters of Phi Beta Kappa, the Organization of American Historians, and the American Historical Association. In 1995, the John Hope Franklin Research Center was founded at Duke to collect, preserve, and promote books, manuscripts and other documents relating to the history of Africa and people of African descent.

Mr. Franklin was introduced by Henry Louis Gates, Jr., who, in addition to serving as director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for Afro-American Research, is also the W.E.B. Du Bois Professor of the Humanities and chair of Afro-American Studies at Harvard. He is the author of critical studies that have had a broad impact on African-American oral and literary traditions, including The Signifying Monkey: A Theory of Afro-American Literary Criticism and Figures in Black: Words, Signs, and the "Racial" Self.

For more information please call (617) 576-5047.

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