Franklin grew up in Oklahoma, and eventually made his way to Harvard and around the world as one of the leading scholars of America's racial history. He wrote nearly 20 books, the most famous being the epic black history chronicle From Slavery to Freedom, called by one scholar "a landmark in the interpretation of American civilization." If you go to college and take an African-American history class, you will read it.
He helped win the Brown v. Board of Education case. He went on to win the Medal of Freedom from Bill Clinton, and taught at Duke up to the end. Here he is discussing Obama. RIP, John Hope. [NYT; Pic via]