In early 2008 a new organization came to campus – one that no other school in the nation can claim – the Harold. A. Franklin Society.
The Franklin Society was formed as a way to increase black male retention rates at Auburn University.
“We’re here to create, maintain and continue the upkeep of the minority ratio here on campus,” Wade Manora, current professional chair of the Harold A. Franklin Society said.
At the time of its creation, out of 100 black men that enrolled in Auburn only 33 would graduate, according to Kel Jackson, founding president. Since then the organization has grown and is now looking at the statistics of current retent
ion rates to assess its impact.
“We’ve tried to address that discrepancy in three key ways – academic, social and professional,” Jackson said.
Tutoring, study skills and study sessions are some of the ways that the Franklin Society aims to help its members achieve academic success.
“Professionally we do workshops where we teach guys how to tie a tie, or how to tie a bowtie,” Jackson said, as a way to address the most basic skills needed to succeed in a workplace; skills that aren’t taught in any college classroom.
Socially, what the group is most well known for is the annual Red Carpet Gala.
“We found there weren’t a lot of social things to do where you could just dress nice and have some good, clean fun,” Jackson said, and so they created the gala, a formal event that includes live entertainment and dancing, as a social outlet for all students at Auburn.
But mostly it is important to all of the members of the Harold A. Franklin Society to remember its namesake.
Jackson tells a story of when Harold A. Franklin enrolled at Auburn. “He had an entire wing of a [dormitory] to himself. And not in a good way.”
The university had this policy for safety reasons, not knowing how Franklin would be received at the school, but it resulted in Franklin being isolated. He had no support network or even a basic human camaraderie at school.
“He certainly did not have that support structure,” Jackson said. “So who’s to say what kind of difference that would have made, if he had a group of folks who you can rely on like we have now.”
For more information about the Harold A. Franklin society, please visit their website.
Hear Wade Manora, professional chair, speak about the Harold A. Franklin Society: