Decades after becoming Auburn University’s first Black student to desegregate the college, Harold A. Franklin will be recognized with a dedication ceremony on-campus, highlighting his efforts and lasting legacy two months after his death.
Attending Auburn University in 1964, Franklin will be honored in the ceremony this Thursday, Nov. 11, at the Ralph Brown Draughon Library. According to the Associated Press, a marker detailing Franklin’s historical integration was placed near the library in 2015, with a recently-installed plaza now accompanying it.
After Franklin left Auburn University in 1965, he received a master’s degree from the University of Denver. Eventually, he taught history at several colleges, including North Carolina A&T State University and Alabama State University, according to the Associated Press. He reportedly retired from his career as an educator in 1992.
— AuburnUniversityOutreach (@AUOutreach) November 10, 2021
Unfortunately, Franklin passed away in September 2021 at the age of 88. But although he won’t be here to witness this week’s event, the Associated Press reported that his son, Harold Franklin Jr., is expected to speak at the ceremony along with university president Jay Gogue and Elizabeth Huntley, a member of Auburn University’s Board of Trustees.
Following the news of Franklin’s recent death, Gogue commented on his sustaining impact in a statement, saying, “Dr. Franklin was a pioneer who paved the way for other African American students to attend Auburn University. Auburn is a better institution because of Dr. Franklin’s bravery 57 years ago. His spirit of internal fortitude will continue to inspire us.”
Calling Franklin a “trailblazer,” Huntley added, “I would not be here today if it was not for his courage to enroll at Auburn and, in the process, desegregate the university. Dr. Franklin broke the barrier so that generations of African American students, including my husband, daughter and me, could graduate from Auburn University.”
Thursday’s ceremony is invite-only. However, those interested in tuning in can watch virtually through Auburn University’s website.