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Rev C. L. Franklin

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Rev C. L. Franklin

  • Original Name Clarence Le Vaughn
  • Birth 22 Jan 1915 Sunflower County, Mississippi, USA
  • Death 27 Jul 1984 Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan, USA
  • Burial Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan, USA
  • Plot Main mausoleum
  • Memorial ID 4400

Well known and influential minister in Detroit, Michigan and throughout the nation who founded New Bethel Baptist Church where he pastored for 33 years. He was also father of R&B singer Aretha Franklin and is considered to be one of the greatest orators of the 20th Century. Rev. Franklin was known by most of all as "the man with the golden voice." He was born (Clarence Le Vaughn Franklin) to sharecroppers in Sunflower County, Mississippi in 1915. It was when the family moved to Cleveland, Mississippi that Rev. Franklin found his calling. He was ordained and begin preaching at age sixteen. He later married Barbara Siggers, a church pianist, who later died. To this union were born five children. While Rev. Franklin's family grew, so was word of his outstanding talent as a minister, and demand grew rapidly for him to preach at churches throughout the country. Before settling in Detroit, Rev. Franklin served as pastor of Salem Baptist Church in Memphis, TN and Friendship Baptist Church in Buffalo, NY. In 1946 he moved to Detroit and founded the New Bethel Baptist Church. His accomplishments while pastor of New Bethel had not only a profound impact on his congregation, but also the city of Detroit. At his church Rev. Franklin started a food ministry, offered financial and legal help for the homeless and conducted a prison ministry. The original location of New Bethel was later torn down to make room for the Detroit Medical Center and in 1961 the church moved to a converted 2,200 seat movie theater. On a larger scale, Rev. Franklin became involved in politics by urging voters to go out to the poles and vote. He also became a active member of the civil rights movement. One of his greatest accomplishments was co-organizing the 1963 "Walk Toward Freedom March" with friend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.Rev. Franklin was also actively involved in the Urban League, NAACP, and on the Executive Board of S.C.L.C. His sermons and music evoked waves of emotion from anyone listening. Unlike most faith-based orators of his time, Rev. Franklin sermons were broadcast on the radio nationwide under the Chess Recording Company banner. In his 33 years at New Bethel, he also released 76 live recordings of his sermons and music. Rev. Franklin preached at churches throughout the country and often brought Aretha with him to sing. For a man who accomplished so much in his lifetime, his time on earth was cut short when, in June of 1979 he was shot in the right knee, and the groin by 5 thieves who broke into his home. Rev. Franklin never fully regained consciousness again. The five thieves were eventually charged with the shooting. Aretha and the rest of the family tried avoid admitting him to a nursing home. Rev. Franklin remained in a comatose state for five years. He was eventually admitted to a nursing home where he died 4 days later of heart failure on July 27, 1984. His 4-hour funeral held at New Bethel was attended by an estimated 10,000 people inside and oustside the church which included his colleagues from the preaching world, politicians, entertainers, journalist and hundreds of supporters and members of his congregation. Rev. Jasper Williams Jr. eulogized his friend and colleague as a "Good Soldier." Afterwards, his casket was placed into a black 1940 La Salle that led a 65-car procession to Woodlawn Cemetery in Detroit where he was entombed. Detroit's mayor, Coleman A. Young later renamed Linwood Blvd. (the street the church was located on) as C.L. Franklin Blvd. and a park near Rev. Frankin's home after him. It is at New Bethel Baptist Church where the legacy of this man of God with the golden voice will continue to live on.

Bio by: Curtis Jackson

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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 26 Jan 1999
  • Find A Grave Memorial 4400
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Rev C. L. Franklin (22 Jan 1915–27 Jul 1984), Find A Grave Memorial no. 4400, citing Woodlawn Cemetery, Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .