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Former president Bill Clinton to speak at Franklin service

The University announced today that former president Bill Clinton will be a guest speaker at “A Celebration of the Lives of John Hope and Aurelia Whittington Franklin,” next Thursday, June 11 at the Duke Chapel. The event will begin at 11 a.m. and honors the late historian John Hope Franklin and his late wife Aurelia, who passed away in 1999.

Other speakers include Vernon Jordan, an attorney and civil rights leader and Franklin's long-time friend, Duke President Richard Brodhead, Franklin's niece Cynthia Gibbs Wilson and trustee emerita Mary Duke Biddle Trent Semans.

"Because of the life John Hope Franklin lived, the public service he rendered, and the scholarship that was the mark of his distinguished career, we all have a richer understanding of who we are as Americans and our journey as a people," President Barack Obama said in a statement in March. "Dr. Franklin will be deeply missed, but his legacy is one that will surely endure. Michelle and I send our thoughts and prayers to his loved ones, as our nation mourns his loss."

Franklin was a noted figure in the field of African-American studies and the Civil Rights movement. He and his wife were married on June 11, 1940 - next week's event would mark the couple's 69th anniversary.

The James B. Duke professor of history passed away March 25 of congestive heart failure at the age of 94. As per Franklin's request, neither a funeral nor a memorial service has been held since his death.

For more information on the event, please visit

The program will also be aired live on UNC-NC and a live webcast can be viewed at


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