Established in 2004 to honor the legacy of historian John Hope Franklin, the award is given yearly to individuals or institutions "whose contributions to higher education are consistent with the highest standards of excellence."
In a press release, Maya Minter of Diverse writes:
At the height of the civil rights movement, Acuña was recruited by students, faculty and the community and became the department's founding faculty member. Very quickly, he developed 45 courses and, by 1969, the department had been born. Today, it is the largest of its kind in the country.“In getting the John Hope Franklin Award," Acuña told CSUN Today, "I’m not looking at it as a recognition of me. I’m looking at it as a recognition of the department. That is very important because it put this school on the map in the Mexican community and the Latino communities.”
As an activist and scholar for more than four decades, Acuña has been a leading voice in higher education and in the Mexican American community. He has authored 20 titles, 32 academic articles and chapters in books, 155 book reviews and 188 opinion pieces, according to his CSUN biography. Among his numerous award-winning books, three have received the Gustavus Myers Outstanding Book Award.