BE Modern Man is an integrative program that honors the essence, image, and accomplishments of today’s man of color. With features of today’s leaders, executives, creatives, students, politicians, entrepreneurs, professionals, and agents of change—these men share the common thread of creating a new normal while setting the bar in tech, art, philanthropy, business, and beyond. The BE Modern Man is making a positive impact, his way, and has a story to tell.
BE MODERN MAN HOWARD FRANKLIN
Profession: Corporate lobbyist and political gunslinger
One Word That Describes You: polymath
What does being one of the BE Modern Man 100 Honorees mean to you?
I remember reading Black Enterprise in high school and college and dreaming of one day following in the footsteps of the men and women who graced its pages. Their stories surpassed anything I could imagine and offered inspiration that I couldn’t fully appreciate. Growing up in inner-city Detroit, my childhood wasn’t exactly known for providing real-life examples of that kind of success. So it is an enormous honor to be recognized and reminded that I owe it to my community and myself to BE an example for the next generation of leaders.
What is your “Extraordinary Impact?”
Working in the influence industry, I am constantly reminded of two facts: One – affecting public policy is one of the surest ways to positively reshape our country, and two – far too few minority voices have an opportunity to be heard in the halls of power. As often as humanly possible, I attack those problems; speaking at programs to encourage political participation, mentoring the many people I come in contact with, connecting aspiring political professionals with job opportunities, and advising progressive organizations about how to reach their public policy goals. I work every day at being a connector and a conduit to opportunity and experience.
What are you doing as a BEMM to help support black male achievement now or in the future?
As a proud graduate of Morehouse College, the preeminent laboratory for black male leadership, I’ve seen evidence that our community offers special potential (and requires special attention) to achieve its full potential. That’s why so much of my activism is centered around helping young men realize and achieve their goals. I spent six years traveling the country with Wellstone Action and training young activists on college campuses to be more effective advocates. I spent another three years serving with the Atlanta University Center’s Political Action Committee to connect college students and recent graduates with career opportunities in politics. Today, I continue that work alongside various organizations, and even when working with clients, I constantly usher young people toward opportunity. While working with the Need to Impeach/Need to Vote campaign, I recently organized an intimate luncheon for Morehouse students with billionaire donor and political activist Tom Steyer. As long as there is a need, I will continue forging relationships that make a difference.
(Photo Credit: Courtesy of Howard Franklin)
What is the best advice you have ever received?
Historian and novelist Shelby Foote once said, “I can’t begin to tell you the things I discovered while looking for something else.” While not quite advice, that lived experience, which we all share, has been the foundation for some of my most meaningful accomplishments. I look for inspiration and motivation in every experience, and I think that’s great advice for leaders sailing into uncharted waters.
What advice you have for other men who want to make a difference?
My first formal leadership experience was managing a nonprofit group founded by former Mayor Maynard Jackson. I was only 23, and working alongside the political giant came with a great deal of media attention. Soon, I was being invited to bring remarks and participate in panel discussions about nonprofit leadership and youth achievement. The whole experience was a whirlwind, but I remember so many of the young people I met had launched nonprofits of their own and were struggling to gain traction. My advice then, as it is now, is to help someone who’s already doing what you want to do. Learn from that experience, be transparent about your goals, and when you’re ready—go forward better prepared than you were before.
It’s our normal to be extraordinary. Follow @BEModernMan and join the conversation using #BEModernMan.
Come celebrate the BE Modern Man 100 Men of Distinction at the 2nd Annual Black Men XCEL, Aug. 29–Sept. 2, 2018, at PGA National Resort & Spa in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.