For My People award recipient John W. Franklin to speak at the 2012 MLK Convocation at JSU

January 3, 2012

(JACKSON, Miss.) – The Margaret Walker Center at Jackson State University is pleased to announce that John W. Franklin, the Director of Partnerships and International Programs for the National Museum of African American History and Culture being built on the Mall in Washington, D.C., will be the keynote speaker for the 43rd Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Birthday Convocation at JSU at 10 a.m. on Friday, Jan. 13, in the Rose Embly McCoy Auditorium.

The National Museum of African American History and Culture is the Smithsonian’s 19th museum, and Franklin has worked on African-American, African and African diaspora programs for the past 24 years at the Smithsonian. Initially, he served as researcher and French language interpreter for the Smithsonian’s African Diaspora program of the 1976 Bicentennial Folklife Festival while living and teaching English in Dakar, Senegal.

Franklin developed symposia and seminars for the Office of Interdisciplinary Studies from 1987 to 1992. At the Smithsonian’s Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, he curated Smithsonian Folklife Festival programs on the Bahamas, Cape Verdean culture, Washington, D.C., and Mali. Franklin served on the Maryland Commission on African American History and Culture from 1998 to 2008 and the board of the Reginald Lewis Maryland Museum of African American History and Culture from 2000 to 2009. He served on the Board of Governors of the Joint Center for Economic and Political Studies from 2003 to 2011, and he edited My Life and an Era: the Autobiography of Buck Colbert Franklin with his father, John Hope Franklin.

The MLK Convocation will be immediately followed by the 17th Annual Isaac K. Byrd For My People Awards luncheon at 11:45 a.m. in the JSU Student Center Ballroom.

Along with Franklin, the Margaret Walker Center will honor Dorothy Stewart, founder of Women for Progress, and the Honorable Mary Toles, founder of the Natchez Association for the Preservation of Afro-American Culture, for their contributions to the public preservation of African-American history and culture. This annual award is named after Margaret Walker’s classic poem, For My People. Past recipients include James Meredith, Unita Blackwell, Robert Clark, Lerone Bennett, Andrew Young, Jesse Mosley, and others.

Tickets for this year’s For My People Awards luncheon can be purchased through the Margaret Walker Center for $10 starting on Jan. 3. For more information, visit the center’s website at or contact the center’s staff at 601-979-2055 or

– JSU –

About Jackson State University: Challenging Minds, Changing Lives

Jackson State University, founded in 1877, is a historically black, high research activity university located in Jackson, the capital city of the state of Mississippi. Jackson State’s nurturing academic environment challenges individuals to change lives through teaching, research and service. Officially designated as Mississippi’s Urban University, Jackson State continues to enhance the state, nation and world through comprehensive economic development, health-care, technological and educational initiatives. The only public university in the Jackson metropolitan area, Jackson State is located near downtown, with three satellite campuses throughout the city. For more information, visit

Posted by Tommiea King



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