Prominent historian John Hope Franklin named first Dan and Maggie Inouye Distinguished Chair in Democratic Ideals at UH Manoa

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
James Horton, (808) 956-9093
Visiting Professor
Kristen Bonilla, (808) 956-5039
External Affairs & University Relations
Posted: Feb 12, 2007

HONOLULU — John Hope Franklin, celebrated historian of American southern history and the African American experience, has been named as the first Dan and Maggie Inouye Distinguished Chair in Democratic Ideals at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. Franklin is the James B. Duke Professor Emeritus of History at Duke University and perhaps best known for his book "From Slavery to Freedom: A History of African-Americans," of which more than three million copies have been sold.

He will be in residence as the chairholder and participating in various activities and events at UH Mānoa from March 15-25, 2007.

"I am humbled that John Hope Franklin has agreed to serve as the first holder of the Dan and Maggie Inouye Distinguished Chair in Democratic Ideals," said Senator Daniel K. Inouye. "As a historian, Franklin has raised our country‘s sensitivity about the basic rights that are set forth in our constitution—life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. He has at times bruised our conscience which I believe helps to ensure that we not repeat the errors of our past. Through his many achievements and scholarly works, he has broken down barriers and opened up pathways for the generations who have followed. There is no better person to inaugurate this Chair. This will be an extraordinary opportunity for Hawaiʻi‘s students, our state‘s future leaders, to learn from a pioneer of American history and society."

Established to honor U.S. Senator Daniel Inouye and his late wife, Maggie, for a lifetime of public service, the Dan and Maggie Inouye Distinguished Chair in Democratic Ideals is jointly housed at the William S. Richardson School of Law and the Department of American Studies in the College of Arts and Humanities. The chair is envisioned as a visiting academic position held by a distinguished public figure. The chairholder will offer lectures and seminars for the campus and the community that emphasize democratic processes and the importance of public life.

"Senator Inouye has been a hero of mine since I learned of his military heroism shortly after World War II. My view of him was greatly enhanced during my service as a visiting professor at the University of Hawaiʻi in 1959, the year of statehood," said Franklin. "After more than 50 years of hero worship, I‘m honored to hold the chair that bears the name of him and his wife."

"The careers and contributions of Senator Inouye and his late wife, Maggie, have served as catalysts for democratic ideals and have helped to shape the contemporary conscience of Hawaiʻi and the nation," said UH President David McClain. "John Hope Franklin‘s own contributions to society epitomize the spirit in which the Inouye chair was established, and the University of Hawaiʻi is honored to have such a renowned historian and national treasure as the first chairholder."

In addition to "From Slavery to Freedom," Franklin‘s numerous publications include "The Emancipation Proclamation," "The Militant South," and most recently, "My Life and an Era: The Autobiography of Buck Colbert Franklin," an autobiography of his father that he edited with his son, John Whittington Franklin.

A graduate of Fisk University in Nashville, Tenn., Franklin received his master‘s and doctoral degrees in history from Harvard University. He has been affiliated with Duke University since 1982, and in 2000, the John Hope Franklin Center for Interdisciplinary and International Studies was established there in his honor. He has also served as chairman of the Department of History and as the John Matthews Manly Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago, where he holds the professor emeritus title. Previously, he was chair of the Department of History at Brooklyn College and has taught at Howard University.

In addition to his academic appointments, Franklin has served on many national commissions and delegations, most recently as advisory board chair to "One America: The President‘s Initiative on Race," a national effort to deal openly and honestly with racial differences launched by President Bill Clinton in 1997. He is also a past president of the American Historical Association, the largest historical society in the United States.

The recipient of more than 100 honorary degrees, Franklin was one of two historians recently awarded the John W. Kluge Prize for lifetime achievement in the study of humanity from the Library of Congress. The Kluge Prize, which totals $1 million, rewards lifetime achievement in the wide range of disciplines not covered by the Nobel prizes, including history, philosophy, politics, anthropology, sociology, religion, criticism in the arts and humanities, and linguistics.

Franklin has received numerous other honors, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation‘s highest civilian honor. In 1978, he was selected by Who‘s Who in America as one of eight Americans who has made significant contributions to society, and he has been awarded several medals and prizes from prestigious historical and educational organizations, including the Jefferson Medal from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education, the Charles Frankel Prize for contributions to the humanities, and the NAACP‘s Spingarn Medal, among others.

Established in 2005 with what has become today an unprecedented investment at the university of nearly $3 million by more than 1,000 donors, the Dan and Maggie Inouye Distinguished Chair in Democratic Ideals recognizes Senator Inouye‘s service to Hawaiʻi and the nation, as well as Maggie Inouye‘s work in education and for the people of Hawaiʻi. She served with her husband in many capacities throughout his career, including as co-chair of the "Ready to Learn" program in Hawaiʻi.