Penny Franklin – December 4th

penny-franklinOn Wednesday, December 4, Community Voices presents Penny Franklin, local and national union leader and civil rights activist from Christiansburg.  Franklin will address the New River Valley community at 7:00 p.m. at the Lyric Theatre in Blacksburg.  In her talk, “Stepping Up,” Ms. Franklin will share her life journey that has taken her from being uninvolved in community life to becoming the first African American elected to public office in Montgomery County.

An outspoken truth teller, Franklin will speak of being called to step up as a young mother to protect her children from being treated unfairly in school. Taking a stand made a difference.  She also found that speaking up meant she would feel the spiritual call to take another step, to take on more responsibility.  As she says, “God is calling me to serve. My life has never been the same. There’s no turning back.”

While her story is very much about being an African-American in Virginia today, Franklin also will address “what it means to be a citizen in a time of great danger.” As she says, “I am speaking to everyone in our community.”

Penny Franklin will tell her story, will tell the truth, to the audience who gather to hear and be with her at The Lyric Theatre in downtown Blacksburg.  Max Stephenson, the Director of Virginia Tech’s Institute for Policy and Governance, says, “Community Voices is both proud and grateful that it can present Penny Franklin as the nineteenth in a line of distinguished community leaders who have appeared on the Lyric stage.”

The speakers, the Community Voices, speak to engage, to challenge and to inspire the hundreds of students, community leaders, colleagues and others with interest in community who attend the talks.  The audience of all ages gathers for an intense one-hour of thoughtful engagement.  Franklin’s recorded talk will be available as a podcast on the web site of the Institute for Policy and Governance ( which sponsors the Community Voices series.

Ms. Franklin will speak about the Montgomery County-focused Dialogue on Race that is now gaining national interest.  She spent four years laying the groundwork for this emergent action to change policy and governance at the local level.  It is in local community that Penny Franklin says she has learned and developed what some call a leadership of relationships.

Franklin, a lift truck operator in Shipping Utility at Hubbell Lighting, serves on and is former chair of the Montgomery County Board of Education; member of the Virginia School Board Association Board of Directors; president of Local 82160 of the IUE/CWA; former board chair, now Area Chair of the Montgomery Count-Radford City-Floyd County NAACP; and member of the national Executive Council of the IUE.  She is co-founder of the Community Group, an African American civil society organization in Montgomery County; founding member of the New Mountain Climbers, the first giving circle in southwest Virginia, the first African American philanthropy in southwest Virginia.

For additional information concerning this event or Community Voices, please contact Andy Morikawa with the Virginia Tech Institute for Policy and Governance at 540-231-6775.

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