Dr. Charles L. Franklin Jr., husband of Secretary of Labor under President Bill Clinton, Alexis Herman, died June 2, at the age of 68 after an extended illness.

A proud product of his hometown, Washington D.C., Franklin attended McKinley High School where he was an officer in the ROTC. He went on to earn a B.S. from Howard University in 1967, and a medical degree in 1971, also from Howard.

While at Howard, Franklin became politically active on campus and in the Washington, D.C. community.

“He was elected president of the student body in the late 60s and he got the students to fight for equal representation in the media,” said family spokesperson Flo McAfee in comments to the AFRO.

At the time, the Washington Post did not carry any coverage of Black college sports, though it provided coverage for traditionally White institutions (TWIs).

Franklin, incensed that he could not follow his beloved Howard football team, successfully campaigned to have Howard University sports covered in the Post, according to McAfee.

Franklin also successfully advocated for the buses that ran through Howard University to be named after the school, the same as those that ran through TWIs like Georgetown University.

“He was an activist leader,” said McAfee of Franklin’s time at Howard.

He was also a member of the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, founded in 1906 and the nation’s oldest Black, intercollegiate, Greek-lettered fraternity according to its website.

After completing medical school in 1971, Franklin served as an intern in the U.S. Coast Guard. After completing his residency in obstetrics/gynecology at Howard University Hospital, he opened a family practice in nearby Silver Spring, Maryland in 1976.

Franklin was a man of many talents and interests. Not only was he a committed doctor, passionate about his practice, he also taught himself how to play the clarinet. He studied Spanish, French, Chinese and could count in about 14 languages according to McAfee. He was a painter and a collector of movies, trains, model ships and vinyl records.

Franklin was also a dedicated member of the Boule Fraternity, and the Medical Society of the District of Columbia, where he served on the policy committee.

After being introduced by mutual friends, Franklin married Alexis Herman, then serving as President Clinton’s Secretary of Labor, on Feb. 12, 2000.

Franklin is survived by Herman; his three children from a previous marriage: daughters Shari Franklin Smith, Michelle Franklin and son Charles J. Franklin; son-in-law Jeffery Smith; grandchildren Brian and David Smith; and his two sisters, Dolores Mercedes Franklin and Estelle Dian Franklin. His son graduates from MIT this week.

Services begin with a 9 a.m. viewing, an Alphas service at 10:30 a.m., followed by the funeral, 11 a.m., June 9, at the Dunbarton Chapel of the Howard University Law School, 2900 Van Ness St., NW, Washington, D.C. 20008.

Franklin’s interment will take place at Rock Creek Cemetery, located at 201 Allison St., NW, Washington, D.C. 20011. A repast will be held at Armour J. Blackburn University Center East Ballroom, 2397 Sixth St., NW, Washington, D.C.

The family is asking that, in lieu of flowers, donations be made toward the building fund of Christ Temple Apostolic Church, 2651 N. Hamline Ave, Roseville, MN 55113. (651) 628-9090. The pastor is the Rev. Jeffrey Smith and Shari Franklin Smith is first lady. 

Roberto Alejandro

Special to the AFRO