Stretch of Interstate 85 in North Carolina Named to Honor John Hope Franklin

Dr. John Hope Franklin was the James B. Duke Professor Emeritus of History at Duke University and one of the most prolific and respected historians of the twentieth century. He died of congestive heart failure on March 25, 2009 at Duke University Hospital at the age of 94.

Now, nearly nine years after Professor Franklin’s death, the honors continue to accumulate. A section of Interstate 85 near Durham, North Carolina, has been designated the Dr. John H. Franklin Highway. The effort to name the highway to honor Dr. Franklin was initiated by Anthony Foxx, who served as secretary of transportation in the Obama administration.

Richard Powell, dean of the humanities at Duke University spoke at the dedication ceremony on the significance of naming a highway for Professor Franklin. “For Professor Franklin, the road was not a hallucinatory Jack Kerouac, Beat Generation metaphor for freedom,” Professor Powell said. “It was the African-American’s conduit to a new life, to reestablish bonds of affection, to economic prosperity and to find a way out of no way.”

To learn more about Dr. John Hope Franklin, see this earlier JBHE post.

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