“Not All Good Deeds Work Out the Way They were Intended”

John Hope Franklin

Source: Google search for John Hope Franklin

Not all good deeds work out the way they were intended. On 25 March 2009, historian John Hope Franklin, an African-American, died at age 94. On a National Public Radio’s Morning Edition segment produced by Katie Simon, he remembered a good deed that he had tried to perform as a 12-year-old boy in Tulsa, Oklahoma, during the 1920s: “It was my first year as a Boy Scout, and I’m very, very excited about fulfilling all of the obligations of the Boy Scouts, and I’ve got so much enthusiasm and so much anxiety to be the best Boy Scout I can possibly be. […] One of the admonitions that we had was that we had to do a good deed every day.” In downtown Tulsa, he saw a blind woman getting ready to cross the street. He said, “And I saw this woman as she was stepping off the curb — and she had a cane — and I thought, ‘Oh my goodness, she can’t see.’ And so I walked up to her and I said, ‘Could I help you cross?’ She said, ‘Oh, yes, I’m so glad.’ And she grabbed on my arm as though I was the last person on earth. We got about halfway across the street — and she’s so happy and laughing and talking — she said, ‘Are you white or black?’ And I told her I was colored, and she said, ‘Get your filthy hands off of me,’ and I got my hands off of her.” Mr. Franklin added, “This woman, who could not see and who was in desperate need of help, was not as interested in help as she was in being certain that a young black man didn’t touch her. And that if she couldn’t see, she certainly couldn’t know whether my hands were clean or dirty. And I knew then that we were in deep trouble to overcome that kind of racial hostility.”

For Further Information: “A Boy Scout’s Good Deed, Thwarted By Racism.” National Public Radio. 27 March 2007


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