Sunday, August 31, 2008

In Memoriam: Reverend C.L. Franklin

'The Eagle Stirreth Her Nest' and 'Dry Bones in the Valley' are two dynamic messages of the Reverend C.L. Franklin which have endured for several decades and which are remembered with incredible affection in the black church.

Reverend C.L. Franklin, the father of Aretha Franklin, was considered one of the profound and popular influences on black preaching.

He was the pastor of the New Bethel Baptist Church in Detroit, Michigan, and one of the most prominent preachers in the nation. Rev. Franklin was one of the first ministers to put his sermons on radio and record albums.

A colleague of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Franklin was the principal organizer of a march for Civil Rights in Detroit in 1963. A march which culminated in a speech in which Dr. King prefigured his 1963 March on Washington 'I Have a Dream' message.

C.L. Franklin died in 1984. His legacy to the black church is not so much in its scholarship or intellectual depth, but his talent to nurture the hopes, dreams and aspirations of a people just a little over 100 years out of slavery. He challenged all who heard him at the point of their temptations to substitute their humanity for materialism and greed; his was a pulpit ministry which kept his hearers from giving into despair over their oppression and led them into a celebration of their relationship with God in ways which affirmed their personhood and strengthened their faith.

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