John W. Franklin made a special guest appearance at the Troup County Racial Trust Building Initiative “Call to Community” Breakfast on Wednesday, January 18.
Franklin is known by his large role with the Affiliated Research Staff for the newly opened National Museum of African American History and Culture. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from Stanford University in 1973 and since has become a research specialist in diverse areas of African American history, including: cultural change in French-speaking West Africa and the Caribbean, African Diaspora studies, Cape Verde and Cape Verdian Americans, multicultural perspectives in cultural institutions, African American history and culture in U.S. museums.
In addition to his academic and research excellence, African American history strikes a personal chord with Franklin. His grandfather was a part of the Tulsa Massacre in 1921, so the history of racial divides and cultural crises have molded and shaped his own life.
Franklin is now the Director of Partnerships and International Programs. He enjoys networking and travelling all in the name of historical culture and modern day relationships.
While Franklin had the opportunity to network and travel in LaGrange, Georgia, the downtown Legacy Museum on Main hosted a reception in his honor.
Members of the LaGrange City Council, Troup County Board of Commissioners, and other supporters within the community gathered at 136 Main Street on Wednesday evening, January 18, as Franklin toured the museum, reading into special exhibits that feature local African American history.
From African American businesses, properties, industries, schools, churches, cemeteries, builders/architectures, lawyers, doctors, and women’s affairs, there was a little piece of history for everyone to connect with and enjoy.
At the end of the tour, Franklin had a few words to share: “Yesterday, I got a tour of the city, both the historic district, the industrial park, by the college, by THINC. I always like to arrive in a city the day before I speak, just to get a sense of the place [and] begin to meet people rather than rush in and just go to the microphone.
Because of the work I do, I always love to learn about the history of the place while I’m there from the people who lived it. And yesterday and today have been incredibly rich because this is the culmination, today, to see it in a museum setting, but to hear the commentaries [as] we’ve driven by places and the significance of these different neighborhoods and institutions make my visit rich.
I remember years ago, I went to a city to a conference and I felt that I left knowing nothing about the place I’d been in, so I always request to meet people who know the history and to visit a city as much as I can… so that when I leave, I feel that I know the place.”
Franklin was also pleased to have spoken at LaGrange College. “I always ask to speak to young people. If I’m speaking to my peers, I don’t feel I’m really doing my job. If I’m not sharing the information that I bring with young people, who can then use it to grow, then I feel I’m failing.”
LaGrange College announced their future plans to sponsor a student trip to the National Museum of African American History and Culture.
Along with the college’s upcoming participation, Franklin said that many other individuals within the LaGrange community look forward to their opportunity to visit Washington, D.C. for a chance to visit the museum.
Visitors hope to understand all of the hard work that Franklin and generations of African Americans before have invested in to create such a groundbreaking, beautiful museum of learning and racial reconciliation.
Peyton Hanners Staff Writer