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Originating as three lectures delivered at the U. of Missouri in April 1992 (just one day after the "not guilty" verdict was returned in the trial of Los Angeles police officers in the beating of Rodney King), distinguished historian Franklin reflects on the most tragic and persistent social problem in American history-- racism.
This book traces Franklin's forty-year quest for Williams's story, a story largely lost to history until this volume was first published in 1985. The result, part biography and part social history, is a unique consideration of a pioneering historian by his most distinguished successor. Williams (1849-1891), had a remarkable career as soldier, minister, journalist, lawyer, politician, freelance diplomat, and African traveler, as well as a historian. While Franklin reveals the accomplishments of this neglected figure and emphasizes the racism that curtailed Williams's many talents, he also highlights the personal weaknesses that damaged Williams's relationships and career.
John Hope Franklin lived through America's most defining 20th Century transformation -- the dismantling of legally-protected racial segregation. He was and remains, an active participant. Born in 1915, he, like every other African American, could not but participate: he was evicted from whites-only train cars, confined to segregated schools, threatened-once with lynching-and consistently met with racism's denigration of his humanity. He has reshaped the way African American history is understood and taught and become one of the world's most celebrated historians, garnering over 130 honorary degrees. But Franklin's participation was much more fundamental than that. From his effort in 1934 to hand President Franklin Roosevelt a petition calling for action in response to the Cordie Cheek lynching, to his 1997 appointment by President Clinton to head the President's Initiative on Race, and continuing to the present, Franklin has influenced with determination and dignity the nation's racial conscience. Whether aiding Thurgood Marshall's preparation for arguing Brown v. Board in 1954, marching to Montgomery, Alabama, in 1965, or testifying against Robert Bork's nomination to the Supreme Court in 1987, Franklin has pushed the national conversation on race towards humanity and equality, a life-long effort that earned him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor, in 1995.
The essays are presented thematically and include pieces on southern history, significant but neglected historical figures, historiography, the connection between historical problems and contemporary issues, and the public role of the historian. His career has spanned a half century and in many ways parallels the emergence of Afro-American history as a legitimate area of inquiry.
Reconstruction after the Civil War has been praised for cutting through the controversial scholarship and popular myths of the time to provide an accurate account of the role of former slaves during this period in American history.
A sweeping panorama of plantation life before the Civil War, this book reveals that slaves frequently rebelled against their masters and ran away from their plantations whenever they could.
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