2009年4月25日 星期六

Vaclav Havel, Alexander Koenig

Eastern Europe | 24.04.2009

Vaclav Havel awarded Bonn International Democracy Prize

The 72-year-old former Czech president was chosen as recipient for the inaugural award in recognition of his work promoting democracy in former communist Europe.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier presented the award to the 72-year-old at a ceremony attended by 200 guests at the Zoological Research Museum Alexander Koenig in Bonn. It is the first time that the prize, which includes a cash award of 10,000 euros, has been awarded.

"Vaclav Havel is a big name in the European democracy movement," said Steinmeier. "The peaceful developments in Central and Eastern Europe would be unimaginable without his work," Steinmeier said.

"The award is in recognition of Vaclav Havel’s courageous efforts to promote democracy, freedom and peace in his country, as well boosting relations between his country and Germany and Europe," said Deutsche Welle's Director General Erik Bettermann, chairman of the Association of the International Democracy Prize Bonn.

Freedom fighter

"The Czech author and playwright, the peaceful fighter for freedom and politician, has lived history and created history," said Bettermann as he explained why the jury decided to award the prize to the former Czech president. "He fought for freedom, for democracy and human rights and as a result, spent years in prison."

"I am the first president after the fall of the Iron Curtain who was not thrown out of his country," said Havel in his acceptance speech.

It was the 1989 Velvet Revolution launched Havel into the presidency. He was president of Czechoslovakia from 1989 to 1992. From 1993 to 2003, he was president of the Czech Republic, after its amicable divorce from Slovakia.

Today, Havel has returned to writing.

The Bonn International Democracy Prize is to be awarded at least every two years. The prize board wants to highlight the key role Bonn played as the capital of West Germany from 1949 to 1990 and as the official seat of government for a united Germany until 1999.

wl/jam, dpa/epd


A natural history museum of high rank

Natural history in a new light - Our blue planet is presented in a fascinating and bright way.

Zoologisches Forschungsinstitut und Museum Alexander Koenig
(Zoological Research Institute and Museum Alexander Koenig)
Adenauerallee 160
Telephone: +49 (0)2 28 / 91 22-0
Telefax: +49 (0)2 28 / 91 22-212
Email: secretary.zfmk(at)uni-bonn.de


The Zoological Research Institute and Museum Alexander Koenig is one of the biggest and most meaningful natural history museums in Germany. The museum, which was founded by Alexander Koenig, a zoologist from Bonn, in 1912, was closely associated with the foundation history of the Federal Republic of Germany: On September 1, 1948, the opening ceremony of the Parliamentary Council took place in the museum’s light court.

The permanent exhibition of the Museum Koenig is called “Our blue planet – life in the network”. In quite a fascinating way it gives a view into the connections and function of ecological vital processes. Above all the natural representations of different habitats (savannah, poles, rain forest, desert, central Europe, city) will motivate the visitors to deal with their environment.

Tip: Free admission with the Bonn Regio WelcomeCard!

Workshops for children
If your children are interested in animals, the Museum Alexander Koenig is the right place to visit. In special guided tours children get some detailed information on the various insects and animals. Dressed as a butterfly they will get to know the world of the butterflies, and / or with the help of existing animals they will get explanations about the life of dinosaurs.
The museum is in the process of being renovated until spring of 2003, however, it remains open for workshops.

Museum Alexander Koenig

Museum Alexander Koenig

2009年4月24日 星期五

Herb Sturz: A Practical Visionary

Herb Sturz
Herb Sturz
A long-time social innovator working behind the scenes on a wide variety of issues, Herb Sturz works to help one population while helping another – what he calls “double or triple social utility.” Most recently, Sturz has focused on two big problems – the lack of quality after-school care for children and the lack of opportunities for older adults to use their experience for the greater good. To push for solutions, Sturz helped create the After School Corporation, which now involves 250 after-school programs serving 40,000 children, while keeping kids off the streets, cutting crime, helping working parents, and providing much needed exercise, nutritious snacks, and intellectual stimulation for kids beyond the school day. Sturz’s newest project is ReServe, which places skilled retirees in part-time positions with social service and government organizations that need, but often can’t afford, qualified help.
The Innovators
Meet Herb Sturz
Gloria Spagnoli loved her job as a social worker, but she retired because she could no longer deal with the stresses of a 9-to-5 workday. Still, she had some regrets

“I’d built this body of knowledge and experience over many years,” says Spagnoli, now 68, “and I thought what a shame it would be to just give it up, especially when I’m still young enough to put it to use.”

Spagnoli searched for traditional volunteer positions but couldn’t find any that would put her specific skills to use. “I wasn’t interested in tutoring children or sitting in a hospital and reading to people,” she says. “I wanted to continue to apply my social work skills, just not on a full-time basis.”

Eventually, Spagnoli found ReServe, a nonprofit organization created by Herb Sturz 18 months ago to place skilled, experienced retirees in part-time positions with social service and government organizations that need, but often can’t afford, qualified help.

Sturz hopes the program -- which differs from run-of-the mill volunteer work by paying participants a $10/hour stipend -- will bring some meaning into retired people’s lives. “These individuals still have a lot to teach and contribute, and they aren’t satisfied just sitting around until they die,” he says. “They want to live until they die.”

Spagnoli is living -- and loving her new part-time job. Thanks to ReServe, she was hired by Goddard Riverside Community Center to counsel seniors about their Medicare D coverage. Now she now spends ten hours a week helping others at Goddard with everything from applying for food stamps and disability coverage to providing mental health support.

ReServe has started small; to date, the organization has only placed 37 people in 16 organizations across New York City. But that’s how Sturz works. By carefully building the foundation, the supporting relationships, and the partnerships a nonprofit needs to thrive, his projects tend to snowball to success.

The Track Record

Sturz, a trustee of the Open Society Institute in New York, has a long, accomplished history as a social innovator, helping to create more than 20 still-thriving New York-based nonprofit organizations. His initiatives have tackled a wide variety of social issues, from criminal justice reform (The Vera Institute of Justice; The Center for Court Innovation), to affordable housing for the homeless (Project Renewal), to support for victims of abuse (Safe Horizon).

Sturz is also known for trying to help one population while helping another -- what he calls “double or triple social utility” -- and he’s put it to use when creating many of his social endeavors. “I’m always looking for synergy, for a way to solve a number of problems with one solution,” he explains. Take The After School Corporation, for example. In 1998, Sturz had the idea to create an umbrella nonprofit group that would help universalize the quality of after-school programs. Such programs, Sturz says, help eliminate crime by keeping kids off the streets, help working parents find proper supervision for their kids, and provide kids with much-needed exercise, nutritional snacks, and intellectual stimulation beyond the school day.

To make the idea reality, Sturz asked George Soros, founder and chair of the Open Society Institute, to make a five-year challenge grant of $125 million. “I wanted to make this to be a seminal thing, something to last for the long-term,” Sturz says. “He and I both knew that just helping limited groups wasn’t going to do it.”

The strategy worked. In the past eight years, The After-School Corporation has managed to match the $125 million with more than $375 million in public and private funds, growing from 25 programs to 250 programs that serve 40,000 children.

In 1999, Sturz helped create the Afterschool Alliance, an advocacy group that raises awareness about the importance of making quality, affordable programs available to all children. The Alliance currently includes 163 mayors, 106 police chiefs, and 63 prosecutors, along with many social service agencies and major corporations. Sturz continues to build connections and get more and more national leaders on board.

“We’re talking with people and sending things out to groups all over the country every day,” he says. “Our goal is to make quality universal after-school programs available to all kids by 2010. But even if we only have 70 to 80 percent by 2010, that would be okay because when we started it was entirely dependent on the private sector. While these programs need to be primed with private funds initially, in the end, the name of this game is public dollars.”

To that end, last March Sturz helped put together Afterschool Congressional Caucuses in both the Senate and the House of Representatives. So far, 31 Senators and 51 U.S. Representatives have joined the respective caucuses, which work to build support and increase resources for after-school programs.

Early Influences

Sturz speaks of three early incidents that made a big impact on his life. As a boy, he was an active athlete; he loved playing tennis and running track. But at age 16, he was struck with polio. “I became very sick and I think it made me more serious at a much earlier age,” says Sturz, who still lives with some loss of muscle control in his hands. “I told myself that if I live through it, I wanted to do something meaningful with my life.”

Second, on a whim, Sturz sent a paper on The Grapes of Wrath he’d written in graduate school to the famous author. “Steinbeck sent me back an extraordinary letter, three pages long, on yellow-lined paper, all about what it meant to be a writer, about taking criticism, and about how by what I wrote he could see I understood the inner chapters of his novel,” says Sturz. “It was the first time anyone ever really took me seriously. It gave me incredible confidence that I really could do anything I put my mind to.”

And third, while vacationing in Paris about 35 years ago, looking for something to read that wasn’t in French, he read The Coming of Age by French existentialist philosopher Simone De Beauvoir.

The book -- which discusses the mistreatment of older people in society and the loneliness with which they sometimes struggle -- inspired him. “It was the first time I thought seriously about the problems of aging people,” says Sturz, now 76. “What struck me in the book was the poignancy of what it was to grow older, to lose friends and access, to face ageism. I decided then that I’d try to do something about it.”

Synergy, Success, Expansion

So, years ago, Sturz created the first of many programs geard to helping older people, EasyRide, which hired rehabilitated former drug addicts and prisoners to visit with and provide transport for older people with mobility issues. “Most of the older people were white, aging Jewish women, and most of the drivers were black or Latino,” he recalls. “In the beginning, both populations were nervous about the other, but what happened rather quickly is that they developed wonderful relationships. They each finally had someone to take care of and to take care of them.”

Sturz is hoping for that kind of synergy with ReServe. The need is evident -- 100 people are waiting for placement, and applications continue to roll in weekly. But the jobs aren’t there yet, at least not in big numbers.

Sturz is on it. Having served as deputy mayor for criminal justice under Mayor Ed Koch from 1978 to 1979 and as chairman of the City Planning Commission from 1980 to 1986, Sturz is using his connections to bend some public sector ears. Pilot programs using ReServists within New York’s Department of Health and Department of Aging are already in the works, he says, and the Department of Consumer Affairs has expressed interest in possibly using ReServists as undercover shoppers.

Within five years, Sturz hopes that ReServe will become a model for other cities, and that one day it will become part of national policy. He knows, of course, that nonprofits today have to prove they can makes a quantifiable difference before attracting major resources for growth. To that end, Sturz has already talked with the Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation, which tests social policy initiatives, about measuring the program’s impact later next year.

But despite his accomplishments, Sturz remains incredibly modest, preferring to let others take the credit. He’s not totally selfless, he admits, just strategic.

“If you’re the police commissioner or a presiding justice, it’s your police department, it’s your court; you don’t want some guy from a private foundation coming in and saying publicly that X initiative was his idea and that it couldn’t have been done without his help. You want the credit,” explains Sturz. “A politician, a mayor -- they need the credit. I certainly don’t need it.”

A Practical Visionary

Neal Boenzi/The New York Times

Herb Sturz and Mayor Ed Koch in 1981.

Published: April 24, 2009

Any writer who employs the word “genius” in the title of a biography — especially the biography of someone who is unknown to the broad public — is accepting a dare to prove that the subject deserves it. As for “A Kind of Genius,” the title Sam Roberts uses for his life of Herb Sturz, it not only demands proof but provokes other questions.

Skip to next paragraph


Herb Sturz and Society’s Toughest Problems

By Sam Roberts

346 pp. PublicAffairs. $27.95

Exactly what kind of genius is this man? Who is he, anyway? And why should we care? Roberts answers those challenges in full, well before the conclusion of this engaging book.

Although a few New Yorkers of a certain age may dimly recall that Sturz served as a deputy mayor and then as the chairman of the City Planning Commission in the Koch administration, he was too serious and soft-spoken to make much of an impression during the reign of that loud and colorful mayor. Probably even fewer remember that he worked on the editorial board of The New York Times for a while. But those brief stints in government and journalism were little more than punctuation to an amazing freelance career in public service, what we now recognize as that of a “social entrepreneur.” Sturz’s long record of success is even more remarkable for being so little celebrated.

There are various ways to measure that record, the most conventional of which would begin with a list of the organizations that Sturz founded, along with the spinoffs from those organizations; a catalog of the intractable social problems that those organizations addressed, from vagrancy and substance addiction to criminal justice reform, young people at risk, homelessness and the simple loneliness of old age; and perhaps a rough assessment of how many lives, undoubtedly hundreds of thousands and perhaps millions, were improved by these programs.

As a veteran Times reporter, Roberts fulfills that journalistic duty and details his subject’s many encounters with officialdom and bureaucracy, both public and private. Yet the most impressive recital of Sturz’s achievements can be found in the individual stories of prisoners, prostitutes, addicts, alcoholics, abused women, ex-convicts — the unemployed, poor, young and elderly people who were always his real constituency.

The “genius” that Sturz used to help them — directing public resources their way and inventing new institutions to address their problems — relied as much on personal virtue as on penetrating intellect. Now 78 years old, he remains enormously determined and almost ridiculously confident, yet self-effacing and ready to relinquish control of his own projects. He is zealous and visionary yet highly practical, and seemingly immune to the usual temptations of empire building. He is unusually capable of seeing situations and problems from the perspectives of others, even those who are thwarting him. His progressive instincts have never blinded him to the more conservative outlook of police officers, city officials and politicians.

Not many people possess such inner qualities, and Sturz himself, unlike his programs and projects, is not replicable. Yet the most important point of his life — and of this admirable book — is that lasting social change can be achieved by demonstrating how everyone benefits when we improve the lives of those at the bottom. Radical rhetoric and the pressure of protest can push the world forward, but so do nudging, persuading and, yes, manipulating the establishment into accepting reforms that are efficient as well as humane.

When he started out 50 years ago, Sturz had nothing more than a college degree, an encouraging note from a favorite author, John Steinbeck, and a vague commitment to improve the lives of society’s downtrodden. Unlike most young people with worthy aspirations, he actually managed to change things. Perhaps, as President Obama suggested recently, the critical factor in creating change is persistence. Keeping faith for half a century is a kind of genius, too.

Joe Conason writes weekly columns for Salon and The New York Observer. His most recent book is “It Can Happen Here:Authoritarian Peril in the Age of Bush.”

2009年4月20日 星期一



    講者:林柏榕 董事長(家扶基金會)

    主持:包宗和 副校長
















跳轉到: 導航, 搜尋
政黨: 中國國民黨 中國國民黨
籍貫: 中華民國 中華民國台灣台中市
出生: 1936年11月18日

林柏榕,台灣政治人物,中國國民黨籍,為台中市第九 、十一 、十二屆市長,是台中市自治史上任期最長的市長。



[編輯] 最新消息


[編輯] 市政成績



[編輯] 政治立場




[編輯] 著作

  • 羅勃福爾期特裏的社會保守主義思想(英文著作)
  • 一位平凡的園丁
  • 中美關係及海峽兩岸的展望

2009年4月15日 星期三





   台中一中校友會台北分會於1976年間成立,由前分會主任何景寮校友主持,27期蔡仲伯校友、27期陳春復校友及30期校友王紹宗等熱心校友協助,其 間,蔡仲伯校友並提供場所,會務推展尚有成效。兩年後分會主任何景寮校友不幸辭世,台北分會疏於聯繫校友,分會事務暫時呈停頓狀態。

  1979年4月得悉旅日校友一行35人欲訪問母校並拜會副總統謝東閔校友,當時台中校友會總會長巫永昌博士疾呼並鼓勵台北分會有加強功能的必要,在王 紹宗校友響應下,4月28日假台北美麗華大飯店召開台北市校友會各期幹事聯誼會,並選出台北分會會長15期張添根校友及24期總幹事辜濂貞校友。之後,入 會會員日多,分會會址暫設會長公司內(國產汽車),事務則由公司內服務校友襄助,由於會務日益龐雜,眾議有向台北市政府申請設置「台北分會」之必要,礙於 規定,只能登記人民團體聯誼組織,爰1981年12月24日奉准成立「台北市台灣省立台中第一高級中學校友會籌備會」正式展開籌備工作。歷經半年時程,在 85名發起人及選出的11名籌備委員張添根、林鳳麟、郭宗煥、許雲霞、林本貴、辜偉甫、何是耕、辜濂貞、陳幼石、周宗源、林英彥等校友努力下,終於在 1982年5月16日假國賓大飯店舉行成立大會,正式選出第一屆幹事會會長張添根及幹事辜濂貞,任期三年。迨第二屆幹事會任滿(1985年5月迄1988 年5月),即1989年5月間,人民團體法公布實施,市政府通令各校友會須依法重新改組為理監事會,因此,本會依規定成立改組後第一屆校友會理監事會 (1989年5月迄1993年5月)選出理事長張添根及總幹事辜濂貞,任期四年。改組後第二屆、第三屆校友會理監事會理事長許秋滄,總幹事王紹宗,展佈新 局,許理事長提供漢口街及新生南路寓所為本會辦公室與文物中心,各項活動熱烈展開,校友人數日增,與母校互動交流頻繁。這期間母校升格改制國立,本會也隨 之正名,至第四屆校友會理監事會改選由26期校友陳敏卿接任理事長,33期校友劉湘澤接任總幹事,會務延續發展,而第五屆校友會理監事會(2005年5月 迄2009年5月)仍由許秋滄校友回任理事長,47期趙善彬校友接棒總幹事,本會一棒接一棒,更為購置會館努力,承襲先賢創校精神,繼往開來。


2009年4月14日 星期二

Fujimori’s Instructive Fall


Fujimori’s Instructive Fall

Published: April 13, 2009

Cincinnatus, the Roman who was called to serve as dictator and then returned to his farm when the job was done, is an exception in the annals of power. More common is the leader who wields extraordinary power in a time of crisis and promptly forgets the difference between ends and means and is never held to account.

So it was heartening last week to see a three-judge panel of the Peruvian Supreme Court find Peru’s former president, Alberto Fujimori, guilty of human-rights abuses and sentence him to 25 years in prison.

Mr. Fujimori arguably had the makings of a Cincinnatus. He was an obscure agronomy professor in 1990 when he was elected president, and he worked wonders: He curbed hyperinflation and restored economic stability and crushed the Shining Path terrorist organization. He also systematically abused his power. Among a list of horrifying crimes, the court found him guilty of the murder of 25 people, including an 8-year-old boy, by a military death squad. In 2000, facing corruption charges, Mr. Fujimori fled to Japan. Convinced that he was forever a hero, he flew to Chile in 2005 with plans to make a comeback. Instead, he was extradited to Peru.

At his trial, Mr. Fujimori assailed his prosecutors for failing to distinguish “between hate and evidence.” The court, however, found that it was Mr. Fujimori who failed to distinguish between authoritarian excess and the rule of law. It may be, as the fallen president’s supporters have charged, that Peru’s current president, Alan García (who was also Mr. Fujimori’s predecessor), is not a great improvement. But if so, he is now on notice that Peru’s citizens and its legal system are watching.

That’s why this trial is so important. International tribunals, like those dealing with Rwanda, Yugoslavia or Sierra Leone, are an essential last resort in the battle with tyranny. They are unlikely to have the cleansing or educational power of a country’s own judicial system affirming the primacy of law. However popular Mr. Fujimori may once have been in Peru, by the end of his trial, public-opinion polls found that a large majority of Peruvians agreed that he was guilty as charged.

2009年4月11日 星期六

Helen Levitt , photographer of New York

Helen Levitt

Apr 8th 2009
From The Economist print edition

Helen Levitt, photographer of New York, died on March 29th, aged 95

Estate of Helen Levitt

OVER the course of her long life, many people wanted to ask Helen Levitt about her photographs. She always refused, at least as far as public pronouncements were concerned. “I’m inarticulate,” she would say. “I express myself with images.” Or, “If I could say that, I wouldn’t have to take pictures.”

The result was that few people knew her, outside professional photographers and her poker circle. And that was fine with her. She lived defiantly alone except for Binky, her tabby cat. The only photograph released of her after her death showed a not-unpretty face, crop-haired and heavily lipsticked, about to scowl. She was in her 50s then, and looked as though the camera had outraged her.

More determined interviewers tracked her to the fourth floor of the walk-up brownstone on East 13th Street where she lived for most of her life. The stairs didn’t deter her, despite her sciatica and a strange, lifelong inner-ear disorder that made her feel “wobbly” all the time. But in her last decade she found her old Leica was getting too heavy to carry about, and switched to a Contax automatic. It was a poignant moment. She had been inspired to use a 35mm Leica by Henri Cartier-Bresson, no less, after trailing him one day in 1935 as he took photographs round the wharves of Brooklyn. He became a great admirer of her work. She thought any comparison of herself with him was ridiculous.

Her pictures were mostly of Spanish Harlem and the Lower East Side. She shot them in black and white, as silver gelatin prints, in the 1930s and 1940s and in colour dye-transfer prints in the 1960s and 1970s. In between, she got into movie-making for a while. Her theme was the same, the streets of New York. Apart from a trip in 1941 to Mexico City, she never found a better subject in her life.

The grittier parts were her particular joy. Her world was run-down streets, rubble-filled building sites, warehouses and litter-strewn front steps. This was urban photography with a vengeance: small scraps of sky, no trees. When she was going with Walker Evans in 1938, borrowing his camera as well (“of course”) as sleeping with him, he used to be afraid of going as far uptown as she did. Some of her young male subjects, lounging around in their zoot suits and fedoras, had an unmistakable air of menace. But mostly she brought back images of gossiping women and her favourite, scrambling children. A right-angle viewfinder allowed her to take the picture without them knowing, even, as Evans showed her, when riding right beside them in the subway.

Here and there

Her birthplace was in Brooklyn, where her father was in the wholesale knitwear business. She aspired to something more artistic, but found she couldn’t draw. For a time she trained in ballet, which taught her to appreciate the musculature of posing bodies and the spontaneous grace of her child subjects. After dropping out of high school she went to work in the darkroom of Florian Mitchell’s commercial portrait-photography studio on $6 a week. There she was hooked.

A good image, she thought, was just lucky. But her New Yorker’s instinct seemed to tell her exactly where to wait for one. A broken-down car would soon attract people to lie under it, peer under the hood or try to push it. A cane chair, put out on the sidewalk, would draw an elderly man with cigar and newspaper, or a plump young woman in a housecoat wilting in the heat. With luck dogs would come out too, rough-haired mutts or poodles with fresh-shampooed coats. The open back of a truck would reveal delivery men moping on piles of sacks, or dozing among pink and blue bales of cloth. Any abandoned thing—a tea-chest, a mirror frame, the pillared entry of an empty building—would soon sport knots of children diving in, climbing up, fighting and contorting their small bodies in every kind of way.

Her pictures did not have names. “New York”, and the year, was the label on most of them. They did not need explaining; they were “just what you see”. Many had a backdrop of posters, graffiti or billboards, which gave a commentary of sorts. “Special Spaghetti 25 cents.” “Post No Bills.” “Nuts roasted daily.” “Buttons and Notions, One Flight Up.” “Bill Jones Mother is a Hore.” Her earliest project with her first, secondhand camera was to photograph children’s chalk drawings on the pavements. She never tried to speculate on them. What mattered was the patterns they made.

In the 1960s, when she got two Guggenheim grants, she began to shoot the streets in colour. The tricky developing ultimately frustrated her, and the streets, too, had changed. The children had retreated indoors to watch television. But where she had found grace and texture in black and white, colour now provided beauty in correspondences. The multicoloured balls in bubble-gum machines could be picked up in a girl’s dress, or the red of a stiletto shoe matched with the frame of a shop window. Her broken-down cars were now lurid beasts against the stucco walls. And out of her peeling, greenish doorways could come women in furs, or pink hair-curlers, or orange-striped socks.

She did not rate her own work highly. Though her original prints eventually sold for tens of thousands of dollars, she let them pile up in her apartment in boxes labelled “Nothing good” or “Here and there”. Her hopes when she started were for photographs that would make a socialist statement of some sort, but she abandoned that on Cartier-Bresson’s advice. A “nice picture”, as she reluctantly admitted some of hers were, was a work of art that had value in itself, as well as a celebration of the random, teeming work of art that is the city of New York.

2009年4月6日 星期一

John Hope Franklin

John Hope Franklin

Apr 2nd 2009
From The Economist print edition

John Hope Franklin, historian of race in America, died on March 25th, aged 94


HIS chief pleasures were contemplative and patient. With watering can and clippers, he would potter in his greenhouse among hundreds of varieties of orchids. Or, standing in a river, he would wait for hours until a fish tickled his line. These were, one could say, typical historian’s amusements; very close, in rhythm and character, to the painstaking, careful accumulation of tiny pieces of fact.

And yet what John Hope Franklin collected, over a lifetime of scholarship, were scraps of horror. Five dollars for the cost of a branding iron. A deed of sale, in Virginia in 1829, for a male slave “of a yellow colour” who “is not in the habit of running away”. Or the testimony from 1860 of Edward Johnson, a black child apprentice:

I was tacon and plased with a rope a round my rists my back intiarly naked and swong up then and there Each of [the men] tuck a cow hide one on Either side and beet me in such a manner when they let me down I fanted and lay on the ground 2 hours

To these Mr Franklin could add from his own experience. The train journey to Checotah, Oklahoma, when he was six, that ended when his mother refused to move from the whites-only carriage. His father’s small law office in Tulsa, reduced to rubble after a race riot in 1921. The day he was told by a white woman whom he was helping, at 12, across the road, that he should take his “filthy hands” off her. And the warm evening when he went to buy ice cream in Macon, Mississippi—a tall 19-year-old student from Fisk University, scholarly in his glasses—only to find as he left the store that a semi-circle of white farmers had formed to block his exit, silently implying that he should not try to break through their line.

Academia offered no shelter. He excelled from high school onwards, eventually earning a doctorate at Harvard and becoming, in 1956, the first black head of an all-white history department at a mostly white university, Brooklyn College. Later, the University of Chicago recruited him. But in Montgomery, Louisiana, the archivist called him a “Harvard nigger” to his face. In the state archives in Raleigh, North Carolina, he was confined to a tiny separate room and allowed free run of the stacks because the white assistants would not serve him. At Duke in 1943, a university to which he returned 40 years later as a teaching professor, he could not use the library cafeteria or the washrooms.

Whites, he noted, had no qualms about “undervaluing an entire race”. Blacks were excluded both from their histories, and from their understanding of how America had been made. Mr Franklin’s intention was to weave the black experience back into the national story. Unlike many after him, he did not see “black history” as an independent discipline, and never taught a formal course in it. What he was doing was revising American history as a whole. His books, especially “From Slavery to Freedom” (1947), offered Americans their first complete view of themselves.

Thomas Jefferson’s wine

Militancy was not in his nature. He was too scrupulous a historian for that, and too courteous a man. Asked whether he hated the South, he would say, on the contrary, that he loved it. His deepest professional debt was to a white man, Ted Currier, who had inspired him to study history and had given him $500 to see him through Harvard. Yet, alongside the dignity and the ready smiles, a sense of outrage burned. He longed to tell white tourists thronging Washington that the Capitol had been built by slaves, and that Pennsylvania Avenue had held a slave market, “right by where the Smithsonian is”. Profits made possible by enslaving blacks had not only allowed Thomas Jefferson to enjoy fine French wines: they had also underpinned America’s banks, its economic dynamism and its dominance in the world. The exploitation of blacks was something he admitted he had “never got over”.

Nor had America got over it, despite the march from Selma, in which Mr Franklin led a posse of historians, and Brown v Board of Education, where he lent his scholarship to help prove that the Framers had not meant to impose segregation on the public schools. The “colour line”, as he called it, remained “the most tragic and persistent social problem” the country faced. His own many black firsts—president of the American Historical Association and the Southern Historical Association, membership of Washington’s Cosmos Club—had not necessarily opened the door to others. The night before he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1995, a woman at the Cosmos Club asked him to fetch her coat. He was overjoyed by Barack Obama’s election, but could not forget the poor, immobile blacks revealed by Hurricane Katrina.

He yearned to improve things, but wondered how. Financial reparations he was doubtful about; apologies seemed trifling. Only time, in historical quantities, seemed likely to make a difference. For some months he was chairman of Bill Clinton’s Initiative on Race, a disorganised effort that ended by recommending “community co-operation”. Hostile letters poured in, mostly from people who did not think the subject worth talking about. Mr Franklin took them in his stride. He would go and work on his next book, or retire to the greenhouse, implements in hand; and practise patience.