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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with John Hope Franklin, July 27, 1990. Interview A-0339. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Racist university professor surprised at black student's accomplishment

Franklin remembers an experience with a racist professor at Vanderbilt University in the early 1930s. In order to apply to do graduate work at Harvard, Franklin needed to take an aptitude test. The white professor who was to administer it was so surprised to see an African American that he threw the test paper at Franklin.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with John Hope Franklin, July 27, 1990. Interview A-0339. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

JOHN HOPE FRANKLIN:
Yes. It would have been because, you see, Frazier left at the end of my junior year. Went to Harvard in 1934. Other incidents that I remember in Nashville and at Vanderbilt was when, in my senior year, the spring of my senior year, I was an applicant for admission to Harvard to go to graduate school. This is before the GRE's, you see. So they wanted me to take a scholastic Aptitude Test, and, of course, it was scheduled, like the GRE's, at a certain time and place. And it was at Vanderbilt, and it was in a certain room on Vanderbilt campus. I went there. I'll never forget—of course, I had never been on Vanderbilt campus before—I don't really quite remember how I got there. I don't think Ted Currier took me, my professor and my sponsor. But I got there and I got in the room, and this white professor—I don't need to say white, he was a professor at Vanderbilt—looked at me and he could not imagine what I was doing there. I said, well, I wanted to take the Scholastic Aptitude Test. He threw the test at me. I was usually quite comfortable in most situations, but I really was most uncomfortable [then]. I often wonder what I made on that test [laughter]