John Hope Franklin (JHF) and John W. Franklin (JWF)
JHF: It was my first year as a boy scout. Scouting had just come to the black community and I made it into one of the first troops. And I was very, very excited about fulfilling all of the obligations of the Boy Scouts. And I’ve got so much enthusiasm so much anxiety to be the best boy scout that I could possibly be. One of the admonitions that we had was that we had to do a good deed every day, and so, I was downtown in Tulsa, standing at the street corner waiting for the light to turn. And I got my eyes on people and things–what can I do to perform a good deed for today? I’ve got to perform it, I just have to. And I saw this woman, as she was stepping off the curb, she had a cane and she was feeling like that and I said, Oh my goodness, she can’t see. And so, I walked up to it and said, Could I help you across? She said, ”Oh yes, Oh yes. I’m so glad.” And she grabbed on my arm as though I was the last person on earth. We got about halfway across the street. She’s so happy, and laughing and talking, out in the middle of the street she said, ”Are you white or black?” I guess she said colored in those days. And I told her I was colored. And she said, ”Get your filthy hands off me.” And I got my hands off her. And I…I reflected on that. That, this woman who could not see and who was in desperate need of help, was not as interested in help as she was in being certain that a young black man didn’t touch her. And that, if she couldn’t see, she certainly couldn’t know whether my hands were clean or dirty. And I knew then that we were in deep trouble to overcome that kind of racial hostility.
JWF: Thank you, Dad.