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Estate Sale-Goers Discover Treasures In Home Of Historian John Hope Franklin


Collectors, fellow historians and fans packed the Durham, N.C., home of the late John Hope Franklin this weekend. Franklin was a world-famous scholar of African-American history who died in 2009. He influenced how the world thinks about slavery. WUNC's Leoneda Inge reports people lined up hours early to honor the man and to buy some of his things.

LEONEDA INGE, BYLINE: You can call it an estate sale or a tag sale. The bottom line is everything had to go.

GAY GASPER PLEASANT: One eighty-six.

CHUCK SAMUELS: That's a bargain.

INGE: There was a steady stream of shoppers, like Chuck Samuels. Gay Gasper Pleasant and her estate company organized the sale.

PLEASANT: Any books?


PLEASANT: No books? You're the first one.

SAMUELS: The first one with no books.

CORNISH: Samuels was amazed at what was still inside the Franklin home. He purchased glassware and the piano.

SAMUELS: You know, some of it - it seems a little bittersweet because there do seem to be some things that I would think should belong in a museum, you know?

INGE: Pleasant agrees. While prepping for the sale, she discovered several great finds.

PLEASANT: One of the first books I picked up and pulled out of the shelf, I opened, and it was signed by the author, Fred Gray, who was the author of "Bus Ride To Justice." And I said to my son, look, this is Rosa Parks' attorney and Martin Luther King's attorney, and he dedicated it to Dr. Franklin.

INGE: The biggest draw had to be the thousands of books. There were hundreds alone on slavery, the South, the Civil War and Reconstruction, Franklin's specialty.

Many of the people perusing Franklin's shelves were in a daze. Some cried, and others sat in chairs reading as if they were in a library. Tina Bryant clutched a framed award presented to Franklin by the American Philosophical Society. Bryant may use it as a history lesson at work or at home for her daughter.

TINA BRYANT: Ugly racism still exists as we all know, but she never saw it in some of its ugliest and rarest form. So maybe hang it up at home first and begin those conversations there with my 12-year-old and then transition it eventually

INGE: Courtney Reid-Eaton sat outside Franklin's stately 1930s two-story home on a wooden bench, which she purchased along with a briefcase and two of Franklin's many doctoral hoods he wore at graduations.

COURTNEY REID-EATON: And some of them have, like, labels in them with his name in them, like, when your kid goes to camp, and you have your name. And so I'm just like - I'm over the moon.

INGE: The estate sale planners said it was their favorite one yet because everyone was so happy. Some of the more important things are already at the John Hope Franklin Center at Duke University. For NPR News, I'm Leoneda Inge in Durham, N.C.


Leoneda Inge is WUNC’s race and southern culture reporter, the first public radio journalist in the South to hold such a position. She explores modern and historical constructs to tell stories of poverty and wealth, health and food culture, education and racial identity. Leoneda is also co-host of the podcast Tested, allowing for even more in-depth storytelling on those topics.