University of California, Riverside

Faculty Profile System

V.P. Franklin

V.P. Franklin

Distinguished Professor

Graduate School of Education/Department of History
7707 HMNSS
(951) 827-1976

Research Areas

  • History of Education;

Strategies for dealing with students who have dropped out of school or are on the verge of dropping out; vocational training programs that offer smaller classes and a more personalized curriculum.

I’m researching the origins of the Operations Industrialization Centers founded in Philadelphia in 1963. OIC centers are vocational educational centers that were founded by Rev. Leon Sullivan, who came out of the civil rights protests that took place in Philadelphia in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

By 1965, it became part of the war on poverty. The Office of Economic Opportunity decided this was an activity that would be part of manpower, job training programs. So the O.E.O began to assist other cities that would be interested in opening an OIC. OIC centers opened up all over the United States. By 1970, you had 62 OIC centers around the country, including here in California. They introduced the basic literacy training program that served as a feeder program into the vocational programs and these OIC centers still exist. I’m interested in documenting this alternative vocational educational program that has spread throughout the United States and throughout Africa.


  • B.A., History, Pennsylvania State University
  • M.A.T., History and Social Studies Education, Harvard University
  • Ph.D., History of Education, University of Chicago


V.P Franklin holds a University of California President’s Chair and is a Distinguished Professor of History and Education. He is also the Editor of The Journal of African American History. Dr. Franklin has published over fifty scholarly articles on African American history and education.

How I discovered my professional passion:

I wrote a book on Philadelphia, on the education of black Philadelphia. That was my doctoral dissertation. Then I was involved in all these projects documenting the civil rights movement in Philadelphia. My uncle was the official photographer for the OIC and his photos were donated to the black museum in Philadelphia. Out of his collection, we did an exhibit on the civil rights movement in Philadelphia using his photos. We were involved with the Rev. Leon Sullivan. I found out he had donated the papers to Temple University. Rev. Sullivan has not gotten as much recognition for all of the things that he accomplished, first with the OICs and his role in the development of vocational education.

This is a form of vocational education that came out of the civil rights movement, spread across the U.S., and then went international and is still going on today. Most people don’t even know him, but he created all these things that were so important and are still around today.

Why being at UCR's GSOE is a good place for me to carry out my commitment to examining the OIC's:

I think the area is fertile ground for the study of vocational education as an alternative to a traditional high school experience.

It has a lot of possibilities in terms of developing curricular strategies for dealing with the serious problem of drop-out rates among ethnic minority students. I’m just hoping that there will be students interested in this stuff.

What I like about being at GSOE:

They’ve been very supportive of my activities. They have provided a home for The Journal of African American History, which I edit.

What reading do you keep on your nightstand?

  • Dear Senator: A Memoir by the Daughter of Strom Thurmond by Essie Mae Washington-Williams
  • Betrayal: How Black Intellectuals Have Abandoned the Ideals of the Civil Rights Era by Houston A. Baker
  • The Slave Ship: A Human History by Marcus Rediker

How my students have influenced - and inspired-me:

I’m always interested in why students are taking the course.

I know why I am interested. I want to know why they are interested in this and, a lot of times, it’s their background, their personal lives and the material I am covering in the course. Then they take it to another level, where the course is a springboard for their own research.

The best question a student asked me:

“Why are you here?”

A favorite book from childhood

  • Sherlock Holmes novels, works of Edgar Allen Poe, Another Country by James Baldwin


  • New Perspectives on Black Educational History, co-editor (Boston: G.K. Hall & Co., 1978).
  • The Education of Black Philadelphia: A Social and Educational History of Minority Community, 1900-1950 (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1979).
  • Black Self-Determination: A Cultural History of African-American Resistance, First Edition (1984) Second Edition (1984); Second Edition (Brooklyn, N.Y.: Lawrence Hill Books, 1992).
  • Living Our Stories, Telling Our Truths: Autobiography and the Making of the African-American Intellectual Tradition (N.Y.: Scibners, 1995; Oxford U. Press, 1996, paperback).
  • Martin Luther King, Jr.: A Biography (New York: Park Lane Press, 1998) .
  • African Americans and the Jews in the Twentieth Century: Studies in Convergence and Conflict, co-editor (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1998).
  • “My Soul Is A Witness” : A Chronology of the Civil Rights Era, 1954-1965, with Bettye Collier-Thomas, (New York: Henry Holt & Co., 2000).
  • Sisters in the Struggle: African American Women in the Civil Rights-Black Power Movement, co-editor (New York University Press, 2001).
  • Cultural Capital and Black Education: African American Communities and the Funding of Black Schooling, 1860 to the Present, co-editor (Greenwich, CT: Information Age Publishing, 2004).
  • “Alonso de Sandoval and the Jesuit Conception of the Negro – A Bibliographical Essay,” The Journal of Negro History, July 1973, pp. 349-60.

More Information 

General Campus Information

University of California, Riverside
900 University Ave.
Riverside, CA 92521
Tel: (951) 827-1012

Department Information

Graduate School of Education
1207 Sproul Hall

Tel: (951) 827-5234
Fax: (951) 827-3942


Last Modified: 10/26/17