The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 102, July 1998 - April, 1999

Book Reviews

hail of gunfire and in the dark of night. The case against Baker for the murder
of Kirkman is circumstantial, they admit, but in this instance the authors choose
to accept the "folklore" (p. 125). Yet, on balance, Crouch and Brice have con-
structed a truer picture of Baker's violent life than the one that prevailed for
more than a century. Equally important, they have produced fresh insights into
a turbulent era.
Unversity of Arkansas DANIEL E. SUTHERLAND
My Life and An Era: The Autobiography of Buck Colbert Franklin. Edited by John
Hope Franklin and John Whittington Franklin. (Baton Rouge and London:
Louisiana State University Press, 1997. Pp. xxx+288. Illustrations, editors'
preface, preface, acknowledgments, index. ISBN o-8o712213-0. $29.95,
cloth).
Buck Colbert Franklin, the father of the renowned historian John Hope
Franklin, wrote his autobiography in 1956 after suffering what his son calls in
the introduction a "cerebral vascular accident" that rendered the right side of
his body, including his writing hand, paralyzed. A frustrated author who realized
that his time was short, the elder Franklin abandoned his other writing projects
and began the painstaking and tedious process of typing out his life story with
the index finger of his left hand. "I was born on the sixth day of May, 1879, in a
small country village in what was then Pickens County, Chickasaw Nation, Indian
Territory" begins this extraordinary tale that reads much like a novel and cuts a
broad swath through post-Civil War African-American history.
Rich with anecdote and detail about growing up on a ranch, striving for an ed-
ucation in Nashville and Atlanta, returning to the territory to study law in the
turbulent years before Oklahoma statehood, and practicing for fifty years before
the Oklahoma bar, Franklin's tale is a personal account of his own noble strug-
gle, as well as that of his race. "With this story of my life, and the era it spans," he
explains, "I am placing in cold print, so far as I know it, the part played by Ne-
groes in the building of the Old Indian Territory into the great state of Okla-
homa. Hence, this effort, in part, is simply a portrayal of the activities and
contributions of a people, not mentioned in the school storybooks or encyclope-
dias, in the erection of a vibrant and growing commonwealth, of which Negroes,
by birth, adoption, and worthwhile contributions and achievements, are integral
parts" (p. xxv). Though the body of literature pertaining to these "activities and
contributions" has grown greatly since Buck Colbert wrote his memoir, this book
deserves to be read not only for the information it provides but also for the spirit
it imparts. "If there ever had been any doubt that my father was a man of high
principle, my reading of this manuscript and my own review of his life removed
it" (p. xvii), writes son and co-editor John Hope Franklin, who, along with his
own son, John Whittington Franklin, provides sensitive and restrained annota-
tion to the story.
When Buck Colbert Franklin died in 1960, John Hope Franklin made sure
the father's favorite saying was placed on the gravestone: "The eternal verities

1998

263

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 102, July 1998 - April, 1999. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101219/. Accessed April 16, 2014.