Dr. John Hope Franklin, the revered Duke professor emeritus and American man of letters, died this morning. He was 94.

‘If the house is to be set in order, one cannot begin with the present; he must begin with the past.”

— John Hope Franklin

[From Gov. Bev Perdue: ‘John Hope Franklin was a tremendous leader, historian and friend to North Carolina and to the nation.” said Governor Perdue. ‘He personified giving and his work to advance the understanding of African-American contributions was unmatched by any other. He will be sadly missed.”]

Former Indy arts editor, olufunke moses, profiled Dr. Franklin in 2007. He was a wonderful man with a soft voice, a brilliant mind and a love of scholarship, history, this country — for all its faults — and of orchids. His doctoral dissertation was published in 1943 as The Free Negro in North Carolina, 1790-1860. Four years later, he wrote the first and still the definitive history of blacks in America, From Slavery to Freedom: A History of African Americans, now available in its 8th edition. A prolific scholar ever since, John Hope was nonetheless always generous with his time and help, especially to aspiring scholars of black history. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1995 by Bill Clinton.