John Hope Franklin: Mirror to America

A couple of years ago Dad asked for this book for Christmas.  And, in the way that books are handled in my family, it was re-gifted to me this past Christmas.

This book should be required reading for anyone trying to understand the history of race relations in the U.S.

Franklin gives us a fascinating view of the civil rights movement from the inside, but with the analytical bent of a professional academic. Stories like his make the history of race relations in the United States come to life in a way that a history textbook just cannot. It’s also interesting to learn about how race relations played out in academe; his stories of prejudice and discrimination even within the academic profession are shocking and illustrate just how pervasive racism was, even within the “ivory tower” of higher education.

Many reviewers have commented on the stilted quality of his writing, and it’s true that it is very dry. I don’t know if it’s a function of his generation or a reflection of his personality, but throughout the book I kept thinking that it read like a letter from my grandfather, who was about 5 years older than Franklin if my memory & math are correct.


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