Literary Landmark: John Hope Franklin Reconciliation Park

Stillwater, Okla.

Dedicated May 31st, 2018

Partners: Tulsa City-County Library, the OSU Division of Institutional Diversity, Oklahoma Department of Libraries, University of Oklahoma Center for Democracy and Culture, Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma Library Association, Tulsa Community College, Friends of Oklahoma Center for the Book, Duke University’s John Hope Franklin Center  for Interdisciplinary & International Studies and John Hope Franklin Research Center, Magic City Books, Taylor Entertainment Group, Tulsa Artist Fellowship, Oklahoma Humanities, Tulsa World Media Company, and Tulsa Community Foundation.   

An African-American group smiles around the dedication plaque for Dr. John Hope Franklin.The John Hope Franklin Reconciliation Park in Tulsa, Oklahoma, was dedicated a Literary Landmark in honor of the late Dr. John Hope Franklin. Dr. Franklin (1915-2009) was born in Rentiesville, Oklahoma. His landmark book, “From Slavery to Freedom: A History of Negro Americans,” (1947) has sold more than 3.5 million copies in nine editions.

During his career, Dr. Franklin delivered State Department and United States Information Service lectures throughout the world.  He served as president of several national organizations, including the American Studies Association (1967), the Organization of American Historians (1975), the United Chapters of Phi Beta Kappa (1973–1976), and the American Historical Association (1979). Dr. Franklin was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor in 1995. He became one of America’s most esteemed historians and was awarded over 130 honorary doctorate degrees.

The Literary Landmark dedication took place on the anniversary of the Tulsa Race Riot/Massacre. The ceremony began at the corner of Archer Street and Greenwood Avenue with a memorial walk to the Park, then opened with a welcome from Reuben Gant, Executive Director of the Center, and a prayer offered by Reverend Debra Garfinkel. Tulsa City Councilor Vanessa Hall-Harper and State Representative Regina Goodwin read city and state proclamations, respectively. The ceremony was hosted by OSU Library Professor Karen Neurohr and Tulsa writer Michael Wallis. The Taylor Entertainment Jazz Trio and the Reconciliation Community Choir provided musical entertainment during the ceremony along with a live painting by Dawn Tree.

Mr. John W. Franklin, son of Dr. John Hope Franklin and Senior Manager, Office of External Affairs, Smithsonian Institution National Museum of African American History & Culture, delivered a dedication speech as he accepted the award on his father’s behalf. The dedication was live-streamed on Facebook by the Center for Poets and Writers at OSU-Tulsa.

The John Hope Franklin Reconciliation Park joins 13 other Literary Landmark sites in Oklahoma.

Resources: John Hope Franklin Reconciliation Park

John Hope Franklin Park dedicated as Literary Landmark