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New site honors first Black student at Auburn University

AUBURN, Ala. (AP) — A new site on the Auburn University campus honors the school’s first black student, Harold A. Franklin.

The university and members of the Franklin family dedicated a marker and a brick courtyard near the library during a ceremony on Thursday. Franklin, who enrolled as a graduate student in January 1964, died on Sept. 9 at the age of 88.

The bronze plaque states in part: “Dr. Franklin’s bold journey is the epitome of a spirit that is not afraid. His story continues to move our hearts, stimulate our minds and inspire our lives. The same spirit dwells within, reminding us that truth will always prevail.”

“There’s nothing more we can say as a family except thank you for all you’ve done,” Harold Franklin Jr. said in a statement released by the university. “So, I’d like to thank all of you not from the bottom of my heart, but from my entire heart.”

Despite his admission, Franklin wasn’t allowed to defend his thesis at Auburn and earned a master’s degree from the University of Denver. In 2020, he was allowed to complete the thesis process at Auburn and participated in commencement exercises.

Franklin taught history at Alabama State University, North Carolina A&T State University, Tuskegee Institute and Talladega College before retiring in 1992.

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