My Life and An Era: The Autobiography of Buck Colbert Franklin

Front Cover
John Hope Franklin, John Whittington Franklin
LSU Press, Oct 1, 1997 - Literary Criticism - 288 pages

“My father’s life represented many layers of the human experience—freedman and Native American, farmer and rancher, rural educator and urban professional.”—John Hope Franklin

Buck Colbert Franklin (1879–1960) led an extraordinary life; from his youth in what was then the Indian Territory to his practice of law in twentieth-century Tulsa, he was an observant witness to the changes in politics, law, daily existence, and race relations that transformed the wide-open Southwest. Fascinating in its depiction of an intelligent young man's coming of age in the days of the Land Rush and the closing of the frontier, My Life and an Era is equally important for its reporting of the triracial culture of early Oklahoma.

Recalling his boyhood spent in the Chickasaw Nation, Franklin suggests that blacks fared better in Oklahoma in the days of the Indians than they did later with the white population. In addition to his insights about the social milieu, he offers youthful reminiscences of mustangs and mountain lions, of farming and ranch life, that might appear in a Western novel.

After returning from college in Nashville and Atlanta, Franklin married a college classmate, studied law by mail, passed the bar, and struggled to build a practice in Springer and Ardmore in the first years of Oklahoma statehood. Eventually a successful attorney in Tulsa, he was an eyewitness to a number of important events in the Southwest, including the Tulsa race riot of 1921, which left more than 100 dead. His account clearly shows the growing racial tensions as more and more people moved into the state in the period leading up to World War II.

Rounded out by an older man’s reflections on race, religion, culture, and law, My Life and an Era presents a true, firsthand account of a unique yet defining place and time in the nation's history, as told by an eloquent and impassioned writer.


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My life and an era: the autobiography of Buck Colbert Franklin

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Historian Franklin (chair of Bill Clinton's Initiative of Race and Reconciliation advisory board and a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom) has edited and assembled the autobiography of his ... Read full review

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This book provides an insightful look into the life and psyche of the man whom inspired the life of John Hope Franklin. "My Life and an Era: The Autobiography of Buck Colbert Franklin" has been a delightful autobiographical read.


Days of Early Childhood
Life on the Ranch
Dawes Academy
Roger Williams University
Atlanta Baptist College
Frustration and Indecision
A Period of Crusading
Bloody Racial Conflict
The Beginning of Panic
A Promise Fulfilled
Climbing the Ladder of the Law
The World Today and My Beliefs
Loose EndsConclusion

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About the author (1997)

John Hope Franklin (1915–2009) was James B. Duke Professor of History Emeritus and professor of legal history at Duke University. For many years he was the John Matthews Manly Distinguished Service Professor of History at the University of Chicago. He served as president of the Southern Historical Association, the Organization of American Historians, the American Historical Association, the American Studies Association, and the Society of Phi Beta Kappa. He received more than eighty honorary degrees. His books include From Slavery to Freedom: A History of Negro Americans; Racial Equality in America; George Washington Williams: A Biography; and Race and History: Selected Essays, 1938–1988.

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