John Hope Franklin: Redefining the American Story – Exploring a Life & Legacy Through Family & Fulbright

“Dr. Franklin was always walking with a sense of global interaction – even when he was thinking about the ways that the United States can address its own inequities and problems when it comes to racism.”

-Nishani Frazier, PhD; 2016 U.S. Fulbright Scholar to Norway


On February 19, 2021, the Fulbright Program hosted a virtual event exploring the life and legacy of celebrated historian, scholar, activist, author, and Fulbright alumnus, Dr. John Hope Franklin, who documented the integral role of Black Americans in U.S. history with his pivotal work, From Slavery to Freedom (1947). The panel discussion examined the ways in which Dr. Franklin’s personal story, beginning with the 1921 Tulsa massacre, informed his work and how his work, and his travel through the Fulbright Program, shaped the way we tell the American story around the world.

Meet the Panelists

The event, moderated by Fulbright alumna, Dr. Kalenda Eaton, featured Dr. Franklin’s son, John Whittington Franklin, with Fulbright alumna, Dr. Nishani Frazier, a historian and former personal assistant to Dr. John Hope Franklin. The panel considered the foundations, travels, and experiences that shaped Dr. Franklin’s work in creating an inclusive picture of the United States and its history. Through pictures from John Whittington Franklin’s personal archive, media clips, and personal anecdotes, the panel discussed the global impact of Dr. Franklin’s work and its meaning today. 


Kalenda Eaton, PhD (2016 U.S. Fulbright Scholar to Canada) – Dr. Eaton is an Associate Professor in the Clara Luper Department of African & African American Studies at the University of Oklahoma. Her areas of research and teaching include 20th and 21st century Africana Literatures, the Black American West, Women’s Studies, and African American Cultural History and Theory. For over ten years, she has traveled with students across Africa and the Western Hemisphere and is active in developing education abroad programs. Her recent publications can be found in American Studies Journal, Teaching Western American Literature, and Africa Today


John Whittington Franklin – Mr. Franklin is a historian and the son of Dr. John Hope Franklin. For the past 50 years, Mr. Franklin has specialized in the history and culture of Africa and its Diaspora, working with the Smithsonian Institution for three decades to expand understanding of its diverse cultures and histories in Washington, D.C. and around the world. In 2005, Franklin was a part of the initial team involved in forming the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture, which opened in Washington in 2016. Since his retirement from the Smithsonian in 2019, Mr. Franklin established Franklin Global LLC, which allows him to continue his work lecturing on cultural issues and consulting with educational institutions. 

Nishani Frazier, PhD (2016 U.S. Fulbright Scholar to Norway) – Dr. Frazier is an Associate Professor of American Studies and History at the University of Kansas. Prior to the University of Kansas, she held positions as Associate Professor in the Department of History at Miami University of Ohio, Associate Curator of African American History and Archives at Western Reserve Historical Society (WRHS), Assistant to the Director of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Archives at the Martin Luther King Center for Nonviolent Social Change, and personal assistant for Dr. John Hope Franklin, before and during his tenure as chair of President Clinton’s “One America in the 21st Century: The President’s Initiative on Race.” 

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