John Hope Franklin


 

Yesterday me and the family went to hear Dr. John Hope Franklin talk about his recent autobiography, Mirror to America, at the Levine Museum of the New South here in Charlotte, NC.  It was a great experience hearing him share some of the formative stories of his life.  It was also amazing to hear him recount his thoughts on history, culture, and politics with such clarity (He is 90 years-old!).  As he was re-telling his personal history within the context of a greater historical narrative I found myself reflecting on how I will re-tell my stories to my children and their children.  How will I re-tell the stories?  What stories will I tell.  Of course during the lecture my youngest boy, Abraham, thought the session was over when he ended his talk by saying, “its about time?”  “I didn’t understand a word he was saying…what was he talking about dad?”  Which led me to talk about the significance of a life like Dr. Franklin.  I think I got the point across…for the kids were excited to shake hands with him during the book-signing.  I hope I don’t get so enslaved by the ethos of our culture that places very little value on the oral tradition, the legacies, the heritage….that ethos in our culture that simply wants us to move on to the next big thing.  I pray I have just an inkling of the story-telling capability of a Dr. Franklin as I age…so that I can tell the younger generation about the struggles of life and the goodness and faithfulness of God.  I hope I can be as faithful a griot to my kids as Dr. Franklin has been for many of us.

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4 thoughts on “John Hope Franklin

  1. one of my reasons for being a writer is to leave a legacy of stories for my kids.

    my mother’s side of the family is jamaican. which meant that stories were passed orally. now, however, i fear a lot of that is being lost on this generation. so i’ve also been trying to record those folk tales as much as possible from my mom, her mom, and her sisters so that i can preserve them for our kids and their kids.

  2. Families are often so scattered now days. But your post helps remind me to more listen and appreciate my own parents recounting of their past. I wish Dad was still able to do that, as his mind now is not really able.

    I was catching the tail end of something on NPR today on “Talk of the Nation” in which someone was saying that the experience of blacks was passed on from generation to generation, so that in a sense African-Americans are still very much linked to their past as slaves. Whites tend to pooh-pooh the thought that blacks are still affected by their past (or should be), saying it’s time to move on. Thanks.

  3. I had the honor of escorting Dr. Franklin while in Philly the week of Jun 29 ~ Jul 1, 2006. (National Links Inc., Convention) Three plus hours!
    By far, the most exciting and memorable time ever for me. He is such an unforgetable person with humor, worldy interest, caring personality and awesome insight. We had dinner together (alone) but with everyone seeking his autograph etc.
    The sharing of his concerns and personality was truly a “blessing” for and to me.
    Just an Awesome person with “down time” prior to receiving another Award for Outstanding Service to Mankind!
    Congratulations to my Fraternity Brother ~ twice.

    Bill E. Brown
    KAY ~ Boule’ (Sigma Pi Phi)
    Dallas, Texas
    972-741-4949

  4. I am a African displaced in Aemrica. My grandparents r of Native American & French-Creole heritage. My last birth name is proof of how slavery has directly affected me from birth to present. I have a Masters degree in Social Work, but because I wanted to directly work with children, I have three state certifications: School Social Work & Counseling-a concentration in the Educational Psychology Department, & a teaching certification for Pk-8th grade. I work for the Seattle School District in high schools as well, a variety of subjects, & for various lengths of times. All morning, my mother (who was born in Oklahoma) & I have been watching an incredible interview on C-Span with the Honorable Dr. John Hope Franklin whom I didn’t really know that much about before today. I want to say THANK You to C-Span which often brings this kind of important programming to the masses…At first glance, I thought this interview was with Dr. John Henry Clark when he was younger, I began to listen intently and appreciate C-Span for bringing this living legend to our living rooms!!!!

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