The Rev. Dr. Robert M. Franklin

Denomination: American Baptist Churches USA (ABCUSA)

The Rev. Dr. Robert M. Franklin is the director of the Department of Religion for the Chautauqua Institution in Chautauqua, NY. He formerly was president of Morehouse College in Atlanta, GA. He is an ordained minister, educator, author, church leader, and commentator on political science, religion, and ethics.

Dr. Robert Michael Franklin served as the tenth president of Morehouse College, the nation’s largest private, four-year liberal arts college for men.

Prior to Morehouse, Franklin was a Presidential Distinguished Professor of Social Ethics at Emory University, where he provided leadership for a university-wide initiative titled “Confronting the Human Condition and the Human Experience” and was a senior fellow at the Center for the Study of Law and Religion at the law school.

He provides commentary for the National Public Radio (NPR) program, “All Things Considered,” and weekly commentary for Atlanta Interfaith Broadcasting Television.      


Franklin graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Morehouse in 1975 with a degree in political science and religion. He continued his education at Harvard Divinity School, earning a master of divinity degree in Christian social ethics and pastoral care in 1978, and the University of Chicago, earning a doctorate in ethics and society, and religion and the social sciences in 1985. He also undertook international study at the University of Durham, UK, as a 1973 English Speaking Union Scholar. His major fields of study include social ethics, psychology and African American religion.

An insightful educator, Franklin has served on the faculties of the University of Chicago, Harvard Divinity School, Colgate-Rochester Divinity School and at Emory University's Candler School of Theology, where he gained a national reputation as director of Black Church Studies.

He also has served as program officer in Human Rights and Social Justice at the Ford Foundation, and as an adviser to the foundation’s president on future funding for religion and public life initiatives. Franklin also was invited by American film producer Jeffrey Katzenberg to prepare an online study guide for the congregational use of The Prince of Egypt, a DreamWorks film (1999).

In 1997, Franklin assumed the presidency of the Interdenominational Theological Center (ITC), the graduate theological seminary of the Atlanta University Center consortium. He served as the Chautauqua Institution's Theologian in Residence for the 2005 season.

Franklin is the author of three books: Crisis in the Village: Restoring Hope in African American Communities (2007); Another Day’s Journey: Black Churches Confronting the American Crisis (1997); and Liberating Visions: Human Fulfillment and Social Justice in African American Thought (1990). He has co-authored (Don S. Browning, et. al.) a volume titled From Culture Wars to Common Ground: Religion and the American Family Debate (2001). He is the co-editor of the forthcoming The Cambridge Companion to Martin Luther King Jr. , published by Cambridge University Press.

Active in a range of organizations, Franklin is a former trustee of the Jessie Ball duPont Fund (Jacksonville) and a member of the Atlanta Rotary Club, the Kappa Boule of Sigma Pi Phi fraternity and the 1999 class of Leadership Atlanta. He has served on the boards of the Community Foundation of Metro Atlanta, Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, Character Education Partnership, Congress of National Black Churches, Public Broadcasting of Atlanta, Atlanta Interfaith Broadcasting, Demos: A Network for Ideas and Action, FaithTrust Institute (formerly the Center for the Prevention of Sexual and Domestic Violence) and the Fund for Theological Education. He is the past chairman of the board of the Regional Council of Churches of Atlanta. In 2000, Mayor Bill Campbell appointed him co-chair of Atlanta 2000, the city’s official coordinating committee for Y2K activities and celebrations.

A seasoned traveler, Franklin has studied seven languages and visited Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and the Caribbean. He is the recipient of a Ford Foundation grant to examine religion in public life in Asia and produced NPR commentaries based on this research. Since 2003, he has served as a consultant for the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

Franklin is married to Dr. Cheryl Goffney Franklin, an OB-GYN physician who holds degrees from Stanford University, Columbia University School of Public Health and Harvard Medical School. He is the father of three children: Imani Renee Franklin; Robert M. Franklin III and Julian Michael DeShazier, a 2005 Morehouse graduate.


Day1 Weekly Programs by The Rev. Dr. Robert M. Franklin

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Strong in the Broken Places

Tuesday June 30, 2009
Dr. Robert M. Franklin, president of Morehouse College, Atlanta, GA, offers a stirring message for Independence Day weekend on the paradox of the strength that comes from great sacrifice, tragedy, and pain.

Articles by The Rev. Dr. Robert M. Franklin

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Dr. Robert Franklin: Welcoming the Pope by Including the Poor

Thursday September 24, 2015
A holy man from Rome has arrived in our nation's capital. It reminds me of another holy man long ago who entered a great city of commerce and power and was met by cries of 'Crucify Him!' We can hope that Pope Francis will receive a warmer reception from Congress, but, things could slide sideways rather quickly if he practices his usual habit of speaking truth to pride, power and prosperity.

Video by The Rev. Dr. Robert M. Franklin

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The Rev. Dr. Robert Franklin (Part 2) - Day1 Conversations with Peter Wallace

Monday October 12, 2009
The Rev. Dr. Robert Franklin sits down for part 2 of his interview with Day1 host Peter Wallace as they discuss Dr. Franklin's perspective on the future of the church, the role of faith in his life, the state of freedom in the United States as well as the state of the Martin Luther King Jr. archive of papers housed at Morehouse College.

The Rev. Dr. Robert Franklin (Part 1) - Day1 Conversations with Peter Wallace

Monday October 12, 2009
The Rev. Dr. Robert Franklin sits down with Day1 host Peter Wallace to discuss the great work of Morehouse College, and the extensive career Dr. Franklin has led before returning to the alma mater of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. to become its President.