There are very few textbooks that stick with you so much that you remember them years later. That was precisely the case with John Hope Franklin's book From Slavery to Freedom. Franklin's writing made such an indelible impression on me that his name stayed with me long after I left Iowa State. His name will continue to stay with me now even though he is no longer with us.
Renown and accomplished Black historian John Hope Franklin died this morning of congestive heart failure at Duke University Hospital. He was 94-years-old.
From Slavery to Freedom was one of the two mandatory text books we had to purchase for one of my first Black History classes at ISU. It was the first book I read that provided a vivid detailed account of the journey of African Americans from our origins in the civilizations of Africa, through the slavery years in the New World, to the successful struggle for freedom and its aftermath.
Up until that book, my knowledge had been VERY limited regarding the history of my people. You have to remember, coming from Norwalk in the 80s, resources on Black history were VERY thin. The Afrocentrism phase hadn't hit yet. I knew I would have to wait until college to gain a greater exposure to resources.
Then along came Franklin's book. To say it moved a brotha would be an understatement. I was so awestruck by the information it provided that I grew a stronger thirst for even more similar knowledge. By the time the semester had come to a close, we hadn't gotten all the way thru the book. I don't think we even used half of it. It didn't matter to me. I took it upon myself to read the rest of it on my own. If Christie Pope wasn't going to give us the full story (not that that comes as a surprise to anyone who took Black History during that era at ISU), then I was going to get it on my own.
Franklin's work caused me to go on a reading binge. I couldn't get enough of Black history literature. I was a frequent visitor at the bookstore snatching up the works of other famed Black historians like Anthony T. Browder, Ivan Van Sertima and Chancellor Williams just to mention a few. Franklin ignited a spark in me that had always been there but had never been realized. For that, I thank him.
I would find out later on that not only was Franklin an incredible historian, he was also frat. There's a saying that goes 'Not all great men are Alphas, but all Alphas are great men'. He is definitely the epitome of that. Omega Chapter has just received one of its greatest members.
Rest in peace, Brother Franklin.