When John Hope Franklin was growing up as a black person in 1920s and 1930s Oklahoma, he saw up close the horrors of a racially divided America. Yet his mother and father instilled in him the values of service, discipline, and hard work as the best way to rise above discrimination. Eventually, he became one of the most respected chroniclers of America's torturous racial odyssey.
In this 2007 interview, Franklin tells host Dick Gordon how, as a child, he was forced off a whites-only train, and how at the beginning of World War II he was turned away from a U.S. Navy recruitment office for being the wrong color. Franklin says his experiences made him ambivalent about his country and that American society will grow only if it learns to confront its past.
John Hope Franklin died in 2009 at age 94. The original version of this story aired Nov. 22, 2007.