Besides his pioneering historical writing, mainly on the American South, Franklin is remembered for contributing his knowledge to the petitioner’s successful arguments in Brown v. Board of Education, the historic decision that ended legal public school segregation. He came to Selma in 1965 to join the protest march to Montgomery.
Franklin was the first African American to chair a history department (Brooklyn College), to say nothing of the Southern Historical Association, which he presided over in 1970. Probably he was the first professional African American historian to be a mentor to white graduate students. I learned recently that Ed Bridges, director of the Alabama Department of Archives and History, wrote his dissertation at the University of Chicago under Franklin’s direction.