This is long overdue!
Auburn University grants its very first Black student with his master’s degree, 51 years after declining his thesis, reports.
Harold Franklin, aged 84, was the first Black student to incorporate Auburn University in 1964 after numerous not successful attempts to prevent him from participating in the school. After two years of lawsuits, Franklin was finally accepted, however his fight was just beginning. Franklin spent his first day at the school surrounded by numerous state cannon fodders sent out to protect him and a cadre of media wanting to cover the historic occasion. While the security of Franklin was the main top priority, other obstacles were looming.
In pursuit of his degree in history, Franklin experienced huge amounts of bigotry. Many professors in his department superimposed their ideas on what the first Black historian from the University must appear like and what he needs to study. They even forced him to write his master’s thesis about his scholastic career at his alma mater Alabama State College, rather than what he wanted to blog about, which was the history of the budding Civil Rights Movement. Franklin lastly gave up, picking to focus his thesis on his time at ASC, a traditionally Black university. Still, each time he would submit it for review, his consultants rejected his work for even the most minuscule of factors.
“I didn’t want to write that. I wanted to write something on the civil rights struggle, and the teachers told me it was too questionable. I truly didn’t want to, however I had no choice. Each time I would bring it back for evaluation, they would find something incorrect with it. They validated [it by saying] mine had to be best. The other theses, they weren’t best, so why does mine need to be best? It kept going on so long, I stated, ‘Hell, what you’re informing me is that I won’t get a degree from Auburn,” Franklin said.
He eventually transferred to the University of Denver, where he did receive his masts and went on to develop a career as a teacher that lasted almost 3 decades. Franklin retired in 1992 and got an honorary doctorate from Auburn in 2001. This year, he lastly received what he wasn’t managed all those years ago, the ability to safeguard his initial thesis. This year, in a small ceremony among professors from the history department at Auburn, he did simply that in front of a formal thesis committee.
Keith Hebert, an associate professor at Auburn, arranged the occasion and sat on the committee. He spoke about why it was so essential for them to do this, saying, “Harold Franklin’s story is a victorious one. He’s the one who incorporated Auburn University, which’s a wonderful story to inform. However we really require to inform the complete story of that, which is that after he came here, Auburn University did many things to try to obstruct his education and attempt to push him out of campus life. It depends on us today to sort of look back into the past and attempt to admit the errors that our University has actually made over the years and to search for some small methods – truly small and insufficient ways – to arrange [of] make amends for those things.”
Franklin was scheduled to stroll throughout the stage this spring, but graduation was canceled due to the Covid-19. This previous May, his master’s degree came in the mail along with a formal apology from the University.
“I wasn’t even anticipating it. I didn’t even know for sure I ‘d gotten it up until it was available in the mail yesterday,”Franklin informed. “I simply went out to the mail box, and there it was. It feels quite excellent.”
Congratulations, Teacher Franklin!
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