First Black Student To Attend Auburn University Honored With Historic Marker – Video


The legacy of Harold A. Franklin will continue forever as Auburn University’s first African American student, who was honored with a desegregation marker expanse. Franklin was bestowed with honor just two months after his passing at a celebration ceremony on campus. Franklin’s son, Harold Franklin Jr., Auburn University President Jay Gogue, Auburn Board of Trustees member Kenneth Kelly and Elizabeth Huntley, a 1990 Auburn graduate and chairman and CEO of First Independence Bank of Detroit were all scheduled to attend the ceremony of bestowing him with honor.

Franklin was integrated into Auburn on Jan. 4, 1964, as a Graduate School enrollee andhad a successful 27-year career as an educator. He specialized in higher education in 1965 after leaving Auburn. Later, he even earned a master’s degree in International Studies from the University of Denver and taught history at several HBCUs including North Carolina A&T State University, Alabama State University, Talladega College, Tuskegee Institute and retired in 1992.

Later in 2001, Franklin was awarded an honorary Doctor of Arts by Auburn and then in 2015, the university erected a historic marker near the library where he first registered for his first classes.

The area near the marker which was located adjacent to the Ralph Brown Draughon Library is the place where he first registered for classes along a path that lead him to the university’s iconic Samford Hall. Franklin remembered the time when he completed his coursework that he was not allowed to defend his thesis because of the ra-sm, which was embedded in the school’s DNA.

In an interview with Washington Post, he said, “Each time, I would carry my thesis to be proofread, they’d find an excuse. Sometimes, I didn’t dot an ‘i.’ One of the professors told me, ‘Yours has to be perfect because you are Black, and people will be reading yours.’” Franklin recalled, “I told him I had been to the thesis room and read the theses by white kids. Theirs were not perfect. I couldn’t understand why they couldn’t accept mine.” Fifty years later, finally, the university corrected its massive error and Franklin participated in the school’s 2020 commencement exercises.

Franklin depart at the age of 88. The ceremony in honor of Harold Franklin has taken place at the Ralph Brown Draughon Library on Auburn’s campus. Auburn Board of Trustees member Elizabeth Huntley said, “I only wish Dr. Franklin could be with us today, but as we imagine his first footsteps on this campus near this very site—where he registered in our library for classes in 1964—we know the path he paved continues to guide our way forever onward.”