John Hope Franklin received the 2006 RFK Book Award for his memoir Mirror to America, which recounts his life as an African-American man in the 20th century. Born in 1915, Franklin’s life took him from the indignities of institutional racism (including being threatened with lynching) to chair the University of Chicago’s history department. Mirror to America is a story of how much racial progress America has made in the last century, and of how far it has left to go.
John Hope Franklin was one of the nation’s foremost scholars of African-American history, known especially for his landmark work From Slavery to Freedom. Born in Oklahoma in 1915, he went on to receive a Ph.D. from Harvard; became the first black historian to assume a full professorship at a white institution, Brooklyn College; and was later appointed chair of the University of Chicago’s history department and the John B. Duke Professor at Duke University. He died in 2009.
The judges awarded Distinguished Honors to Judgmnet Days, Nick Kotz’s history of the comlpicated relationship between President Lyndon Johnson and Martin Luther King, Jr., and to P.W. Singer’s Children at War, a galvanizing study of the contemporary epidemic of child soldiers.