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David Franklin

Family-Placed Death Notice

FRANKLIN, David DAVID McCOY FRANKLIN Atlanta native entrepreneur and entertainment attorney David McCoy Franklin died today of natural causes at age 65. His family has lived in Georgia since the early 1800's starting in Sparta. He was one of the greater than life Atlanta citizens whose lives defined the civil rights era beginning as a youth member and organizer of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. David made significant contributions in business and politics. Highly successful during his lifetime, Franklin managed the careers of Donny Hathaway, Roberta Flack, Peabo Bryson, Miles Davis, Cicely Tyson, Lonette McKee, Luther Vandross, Lou Gossett, and Richard Pryor. He was also co-founder of the prestigious Black Entertainment and Sports Lawyers Association which now has over 600 members. Committed to education, he made significant contributions to Morehouse through his service on the Morehouse Research Institute Advisory Board. His love of art was reflected in his collection, which at times included artists such as Romare Bearden and Ernie Barnes. It was through his financial support that the statue "Expelled because of their Color" can be found on the State Capitol grounds. A voracious reader he enjoyed everything from LA Dodgers Fact Book and the daily Notre Dame Blue and Gold Report to everything James Baldwin wrote. The outspoken and frequently controversial Franklin always had a love of politics and an interest in the Civil Rights Movement. Although he never ran for office, he is often cited by political observers as being instrumental in Maynard Jackson's political operations. In 1973 Jackson was elected Atlanta's first black mayor and exploded on the national scene. In every subsequent municipal Atlanta election, the game plan and strategy was built on the Jackson model. Franklin's professional political career, when at age 29, he returned to his native Atlanta from Washington DC as a partner with the law firm of Jackson, Patterson and Parks. At that time, Maynard Jackson was Vice-Mayor with his sights set on making history as Atlanta's first Black mayor. As one of Jackson's chief strategists in 1973 Franklin utilized entertainment contacts to raise thousands of dollars for the race, including a fundraiser at the Omni starring Donny Hathaway, Roberta Flack, Gladys Knight. Franklin is credited with helping to run a shrewd campaign. On election day he carefully choreographed the "get out the vote" campaign with hundreds of volunteers, transporting thousands of Black voters to the polls throughout the city. Reared in Atlanta by his mother, Jean McCoy Moore, and his grandmother, Kate Dickson McCoy, Franklin attended Turner High School. Franklin's interest in current events and business were sparked by an extraordinary curiosity and the dynamism of the African American business leadership of the time. After graduating from Morehouse College in Atlanta, he moved to Washington D.C. where he took a position with the Department of Labor, Office of Federal Contract Compliance. He attended American University Law School at night and passed the Washington D.C. bar. It was during this period that he met and some years later married Shirley Franklin. The Franklins have three children Kai, Cabral and Kali, - all current residents of Atlanta. Franklin's entertainment career began in Washington DC where he met the then unknown Donny Hathaway. Franklin's keen negotiating skills on behalf of his artists soon brought him a reputation of gaining the best deals in the industry -attracting the many high-profiled artists. Working with Ahmed Ertegun of Atlantic Records, he was the first black attorney to negotiate six figure contracts for his clients. He later worked on behalf of Richard Pryor negotiating the first multi- performance contract for a Black comedy artist on network television. As Mayor Jackson's law partner, coupled with the continued success of his high-profile entertainment clients, his skillful entrepreneurial and political talents became the basis of the development of the Atlanta's minority joint venture and business enterprise program soon to become a national standard. He worked as a strategic political advisor on the regional and national level. The numerous campaigns ranged from former Vice President Mondale and Senator Edward Kennedy to Ellis Arnall and Governor Roy Barnes. One of Franklin's successful business ventures was Franklin & Wilson Airport Concessions (FWAC). After initial negotiations with Ed Elson of Airport News, his became the first African American retail concession in the history of the Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Later he started a strategic partnership with worldwide airport news concessionaire, WH Smith in 1994, and Ronald W. Wilson, a long term friend and business associate. During his life, Franklin was known as a strong competitor with a razor sharp mind combined with extraordinary foresight and an amazing ability to make deals. Franklin will be fondly remembered by many for his political acumen, business savvy and assured confidence. An ardent supporter of Black and progressive candidates for public office, Franklin was also a proud father who instilled in his children the importance of education, entrepreneurship and self confidence. In addition to his three children Kai, Cabral (Candice) and Kali, he is survived by three grandchildren, Kaci, Kori and Keson, two sisters, Michaele Jean Franklin Jackson, Valerie (Ronald) Knight and four nephews, Ronald Jr., David, Michael and Jules. Funeral services will be held on Thursday, September 11, 2008, 11:00am, Radcliffe Presbyterian Church, 286 Hamilton E. Holmes Dr. NW. Instate 10 AM. Dr. Lloyd Green, Jr., Pastor. Rev. Andrew J. Young, Eulogist. Family and friends are asked to assemble at the church at 10:30 AM on the day of service. In lieu of flowers the family requests donations be made to the Morehouse College Scholarship Fund in honor of David Franklin. Viewing today 4 PM - 9 PM at Murray Brothers Cascade Chapel, 1199 Utoy Springs Rd. SW (Corner of Cascade Rd. near I-285) 404-349-3000
Published in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Sept. 10, 2008
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