Auburn's 59th anniversary of institution’s integration recognized

Published: January 04, 2023

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On Wednesday, Auburn University recognized the 59th anniversary of its integration on Jan. 4, 1964, when Harold A. Franklin became the first African American student and created opportunities for all African American students who followed him to the Plains.

Franklin registered for graduate classes that day, making history and breaking barriers. After his time spent at Auburn paving the way for others, Franklin went on to a successful 27-year career as an educator in higher education, earning a master’s degree in international studies from the University of Denver and becoming a history professor at Alabama State University, North Carolina A&T State University, Tuskegee Institute and Talladega College before retiring in 1992.

Auburn has acknowledged Franklin’s impact in a variety of ways. In 2001, Franklin received an honorary Doctor of Arts from the university, and on Feb. 19, 2020, he was finally granted the opportunity to defend his thesis in the Department of History at Auburn after having been previously denied that chance. He then participated in commencement exercises on Dec. 12 that same year.

In addition, in 2008, Auburn students created The Harold A. Franklin Society, a student organization within the Cross Cultural Center for Excellence. The Auburn Alumni Association’s Black Alumni Council also established a scholarship named in his honor.

Franklin passed away at the age of 88 on Sept. 9, 2021, but his legacy lives on. Auburn commemorated Franklin’s courageous efforts to desegregate the land-grant institution with the unveiling of the Harold Franklin desegregation plaza on Nov. 11, 2021. The site includes a bricked courtyard and is located adjacent to the library where he registered for classes in 1964.

Auburn and the Office of Inclusion and Diversity will continue to honor Franklin’s bravery through its ongoing commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. For more information on Auburn’s commitment to DEI and other notes of recognition, please visit OID through its website, on Instagram, DEI landing page or by signing up for the OID newsletter.

Submitted by: Myya Robinson

Harold A. Franklin integrated Auburn University on Jan. 4, 1964.