C. L. Franklin Papers: 1957-1991 (bulk 1963-1984)
Summary Information
Title: C. L. Franklin Papers
Creator: Franklin, C. L. (Clarence LaVaughn), 1915-1984
Inclusive dates: 1957-1991
Bulk dates: 1963-1984
Extent: 0.7 linear feet
Extent: 1 oversize folder
Extent: 1 phonograph record
Abstract:
Detroit African American clergyman and civil rights activist. Papers accumulated by Franklin's daughter, Erma Franklin, relating to the life and career of her father; include biographical information, transcripts of oral interviews; scattered sermons and correspondence, including letters from daughter Aretha and from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.; topical files about his church and civil rights activities; and photographs
Call number: 99100 Aa 2
Language: The materials are in English.
Repository: Bentley Historical Library
1150 Beal Ave.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2113
Phone: 734-764-3482
Fax: 734-936-1333
e-mail: bentley.ref@umich.edu
Home Page: http://www.bentley.umich.edu/
Finding aid prepared by: Thomas E. Powers

Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

Erma Franklin (donor no. 8904), daughter of C. L. Franklin, allowed the library to make copies of Franklin materials in her possession. The copies were made in October 1999. Additions were received in 2004.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.

To protect fragile audiovisual recordings (such as audio cassettes, film reels, and VHS tapes), the Bentley Historical Library has a policy of converting them to digital formats by a professional vendor whenever a researcher requests access. For more information, please see: http://bentley.umich.edu/research/duplication/.

Copyright:

Copyright has not been transferred to the Regents of the University of Michigan; permission of the donor is required for the duplication of photoprints. Patrons are responsible for determining the appropriate use or reuse of materials.

Duplication Policy: Photographs in the Franklin collection may not be reproduced without permission of the family.

Preferred Citation:

item, folder title, box no., C. L. Franklin Papers, Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan


Biography

C.L. Franklin was a nationally known African American clergyman, active in the civil right movement, and longtime pastor of New Bethel Baptist Church in Detroit, Michigan. He was born Clarence LaVaughn Franklin January 22, 1915 in Sunflower County, Mississippi. While a teenager, he started preaching in rural churches in Mississippi. In 1938, he went to Memphis to become pastor of New Salem Baptist Church. In Memphis, he also attended the Howe School of Religion and LeMoyne College. He later moved to a Baptist church in Buffalo, New York, and while there he took courses at the University of Buffalo.

In 1946, Franklin moved to Detroit where he founded New Bethel Baptist Church. In 1952, his wife Barbara died leaving Franklin to raise their five children: Erma, Carolyn, Aretha, Cecil, and Vaughn.

Franklin gained renown as a preacher whose oratorical skills were responsible in part for the great growth in New Bethel's membership over the next three decades. Franklin's ministry also included radio broadcasts and many of his messages were made available through commercially produced records. Franklin also achieved recognition outside of his own congregation. When preaching in other churches, Franklin often took his daughter Aretha with him. Her talent as a gifted gospel singer reflected on Franklin and the fame of his ministry grew.

Throughout his life, Franklin involved himself politically. He was ever mindful of the needs of both his congregation and of the wider African American community. He was active in civil rights issues and demonstrations and was vocal in his opposition to racism. In 1963, he help to organize and enlist support for the Freedom March led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. down Woodward Avenue in Detroit. The march, which drew more than 125,000 participants, was claimed by some as the prototype of King's march in Washington later in the summer of that same year. A few years later, in 1969, Franklin rented his church to the Republic of New Africa, a militant African American separatist organization. While this meeting was in progress, police and bystanders outside the church exchanged gun fire. One policeman was killed. Subsequently, police stormed the church and arrested 142 individuals all of whom were later released when it was found that their arrests were made improperly. Not all of his congregation were pleased that their pastor had opened the church to this group, but Franklin was forthright in his belief that all groups should be given the opportunity to present their views.

In 1979, Franklin confronted burglars who had broken into his home. Franklin was shot twice and went into a coma that would last more than five years. He died July 27, 1984.


Collection Scope and Content Note

The C. L. Franklin collection is a small but significant accumulation of materials relating to the life and career of this Detroit-based clergyman. Although the collection dates from the mid-1950s, most of the materials fall within the period of 1963 to 1984. The collection is comprised of photocopies and copyprints of materials made available to the library by Erma Franklin. The importance of the collection is for the sampling of Franklin sermons that have been preserved, for the scattered documentation of the important March of Freedom that took place in Detroit in the summer of 1963, and for the copyprints made of photographs of Franklin, his family and his friends and professional associates. The collection has been arranged into five series: Biographical Information, Various Papers, Topical Files, Photographs, and Sound Recordings.

Subject Terms

This collection is indexed under the following headings in the finding aid database and catalog of The Bentley Historical Library/University of Michigan. Researchers desiring additional information about related topics should search the catalog using these headings.


  • Afro-American clergy -- Michigan -- Detroit.
  • Afro-American churches -- Michigan -- Detroit.
  • Afro-Americans -- Michigan -- Detroit.
  • Baptists, Black -- Michigan -- Detroit.
  • Clergy -- Michigan -- Detroit.
  • Civil rights -- Michigan -- Detroit.
  • Detroit (Mich.) -- Church history.
  • Detroit (Mich.) -- Race relations.
  • Sermons.
  • Churches -- Michigan -- Detroit.
  • Detroit (Mich.) -- Churches.
  • Parades & processions -- Michigan -- Detroit.
  • Photographs.
  • Franklin, Aretha.
  • Franklin, C. L. (Clarence LaVaughn), 1915-1984.
  • Franklin, Erma.
  • New Bethel Baptist Church (Detroit, Mich.)
  • Belafonte, Harry, 1927-
  • Franklin, Aretha.
  • Franklin, C. L. (Clarence LaVaughn), 1915-1984.
  • Prophet, Jones.
  • King, Martin Luther, Jr.
  • King, Coretta Scott, 1927-2006.
  • Jackson, Mahalia, 1911-1972.
  • New Bethel Baptist Church (Detroit, Mich.)
  • Powell, Adam Clayton, 1908-1972.
  • St. Marie, Buffy.
  • King, Martin Luther, Jr., 1929-1968.
Contents List
Request materials for use in the Bentley Library
Container / Location Title
 
Biographical Information [series]

Biographical Information consists of articles, clippings, and collected material on the life of C. L. Franklin. Of most significance are the transcripts of oral interviews with Franklin conducted by his biographer, Jeff Titon. These interviews were made in 1976 and 1977 and contain excellent information about Franklin's life. Also included here are transcripts made by Titon of several of Franklin's sermons.

Box   1  
Summary information and articles
Box   1  
Clippings (largely obituaries)
Box   1  
Memorial service programs 1984
 
Jeff Titon (student of CLF life and preaching)
Box   1  
Article: "Reverend C.L. Franklin; Black-American Preacher Poet" (from Folklife Annual 1987) 1987
Box   1  
Transcript of interview with CLF February 27, 1976, October 5, 1977

(includes correspondence related to the interviews and to Titon's book)

Box   1  
Transcripts of CLF sermons 1977 (6 items)
 
Various Papers [series]

Various Papers is the heading for the miscellanea of correspondence, sermons, other writings, and other documents preserved by C. L. Franklin and his family.

Box   1  
Correspondence 1957-1991, undated
Box   1  
Sermons (2 folders)
Box   1  
Clippings
Box   1  
Miscellaneous
 
Topical Files [series]

The Topical Files series contains information about the March of Freedom in 1963, about New Bethel Baptist Church, a scattering of papers about Franklin's civil rights activities, about the care given him following his shooting, and the efforts made to memorialize him.

Box   1  
Detroit Council for Human Rights 1963
Box   1  
Evangelistic Board, National Baptist Convention, USA mid-winter board meetings 1961
Box   1  
Franklin. C.L. Franklin Memorial Committee/C.L. Franklin Medical Trust Fund 1983-1992
Box   1  
Franklin family information
Box   1  
International Afro Musical and Cultural Festival
Box   1  
King. Martin Luther King, Jr. (letters) 1963
Box   1  
March of Freedom in Detroit June 1963
Box   1  
March of Freedom in Detroit (later commemorations)
Box   1  
Metropolitan Civic League for Legal Action
Box   1  
New Bethel Baptist Church (publications, etc.)
Box   1  
"An Open Letter to White America" 1967

(re Detroit riot)

Box   1  
"Soul Bowl '69'" 1969
 
Photographs [series]

Photographs is made up of copyprints (with some originals) of photographs in the possession of Erma Franklin and photocopies of images for which copyprints were not made. The photographs include portraits of Franklin and his family, particularly his daughter Aretha, photos of Franklin as participant in the 1963 March of Freedom and with other notables, such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Adam Clayton Powell, and Mahalia Jackson. Other photographs are of the New Bethel Baptist Church, a group photograph that includes Detroit preacher Prophet Jones, and group photographs of Franklin and his children.

Box   1  
Portraits of CLF
Box   1  
CLF with children
Box   1  
Aretha Franklin (Aretha Franklin Day) 1968

(images of Aretha Franklin on stage with father and with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.; also backstage photos of AF with Harry Belafonte and Buffy St. Marie)

Box   1  
CLF with other dignitaries

(include Martin Luther King, Coretta Scott King, Adam Clayton Powell, and Mahalia Jackson)

Box   1  
March of Freedom in Detroit June 1963
Box   1  
New Bethel Baptist Church

(exterior view and interior views of church during services)

Box   1  
Various

(include group photo with Prophet Jones in white coat)

Box   1  
Photocopies of photographs for which copyprints were not made (2 folders)
 
Sound recordings [series]

Sound Recordings consists of a 78 rpm sound disc featuring C. L. Franklin and choir singing two hymns. The library has also purchased sound cassette copies of Rev. Franklin preaching. These have been separately cataloged and located.

Sound Disc   1  
I Love the Lord/Heard the Voice of Jesus (1 phonograph record (78 rpm))

(Phonograph record: Rev. C.L. Franklin and Congregation sings (65-A) "I love the Lord" (65-B) "Heard the Voice of Jesus" J-V-B Recording Co. Located in phonograph disk collection)

  Online  
Side 1: I Love the Lord ([99100-SR-5-1]) [Access to this material is restricted to the reading room of the Bentley Historical Library.] [access item]
  Online  
Side 2: Heard the Voice of Jesus ([99100-SR-5-2]) [Access to this material is restricted to the reading room of the Bentley Historical Library.] [access item]
Sound Disc   1  
C.L. Franklin Preaching (1 audiocassettes)

(Sermon entitled "Show to show thyself approved unto God", "Silver & Gold", "Have I None But Such as I Have thee", "Your Mother Loves her Children.")

  Online  
Side 1 ([99100-SR-1-1]) [Access to this material is restricted to the reading room of the Bentley Historical Library.] [access item]
  Online  
Side 2 ([99100-SR-1-2]) [Access to this material is restricted to the reading room of the Bentley Historical Library.] [access item]
Sound Disc   1  
Funeral Service for Rev. C.L. Franklin (3 audiocassettes)
 
Tape 1
  Online  
Side 1 ([99100-SR-2-1]) [Access to this material is restricted to the reading room of the Bentley Historical Library.]

(Part 1 of the C.L. Franklin Funeral Service, including music, sermons, and speeches.)

[access item]
  Online  
Side 2 ([99100-SR-2-2]) [Access to this material is restricted to the reading room of the Bentley Historical Library.]

(Part 2 of the C.L. Franklin Funeral Service, including music, sermons, and speeches.)

[access item]
 
Tape 2
  Online  
Side 1 ([99100-SR-3-1]) [Access to this material is restricted to the reading room of the Bentley Historical Library.]

(Part 3 of the C.L. Franklin Funeral Service, including music, sermons, and speeches.)

[access item]
  Online  
Side 2 ([99100-SR-3-2]) [Access to this material is restricted to the reading room of the Bentley Historical Library.]

(Part 4 of the C.L. Franklin Funeral Service, including music, sermons, and speeches.)

[access item]
 
Tape 3
  Online  
Side 1 ([99100-SR-4-1]) [Access to this material is restricted to the reading room of the Bentley Historical Library.]

(Part 5 of the C.L. Franklin Funeral Service, including music, sermons, and speeches.)

[access item]
  Online  
Side 2 ([99100-SR-4-2]) [Access to this material is restricted to the reading room of the Bentley Historical Library.]

(Part 6 of the C.L. Franklin Funeral Service, including music, sermons, and speeches.)

[access item]