Some of the most touching sentiments from today's ceremony at Duke Chapel honoring historian John Hope Franklin and his wife, Aurelia, came from their son, John Whittington Franklin.
The event was a celebration of the lives of John Hope, who died in March, and Aurelia, who died in 1999. John Hope - I'll continue referring to him that way because that's how he was generally referred to - was a scholar of legend; his seminar work, "From Slavery to Freedom," went a long way towards defining the black experience and created a roadmap for African-American education in this country. Its ninth edition is about to be published.
In hearing John Whittington Franklin talk about his parents, it became clear that education, truth and scholarship were at the core of the Franklin household. John Whittington Franklin recalled how his mother taught him to cook while his father took him fishing, and both parents got on him about grammar and his mathematics.
"Conversation was an art," Franklin recalled. "And one needed to be well-versed on currrent events and willing to provide an opinion."
A couple of tidbits I'm cribbing directly from the program for today's celebration:
The couple met at Fisk University in Tennessee in 1931. Aurelia met John Hope through introductions from a classmate.
"He was headed for town and asked if Aurelia needed anything. She asked for 15 cents worth of chocolate-covered peanuts. Although he was working two jobs, he did not have any money. Aurelia gave him the coins and he brought her the peanuts."
They were married June 11, 1940 - today would be their 69th anniversary - and the ceremony was held in her parents' living room at 7:30 in the morning.
The Franklins traveled the world - Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Southeast Asia, Central and South America, the Caribbean, and all over Africa. For their 50th anniversary, they vacationed in Rio de Janeiro.
Said John Whittington Franklin Thursday: "John Hope and Aurelia were extraordinary people, a marvelous couple and a powerful team."