Athens, Ga. – Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin will be the speaker for the 22nd annual Holmes-Hunter Lecture at the University of Georgia April 3. Franklin, the first woman to serve as mayor of Atlanta, will speak at 2 p.m. in the UGA Chapel. The lecture is free and open to the public.
The Holmes-Hunter Lecture was established in 1985 to honor Hamilton Holmes and Charlayne Hunter-Gault, who in 1961 became the first African Americans to enroll at UGA. Lecture speakers focus on race relations, black history or aspects of higher education with implications for race relations.
Franklin was elected Atlanta’s 58th mayor in 2001 in her first bid for public office and was re-elected last year. She is the first African-American woman to serve as mayor of a major southern city.
In her first term, Franklin began laying the groundwork for a $3.2 billion overhaul of Atlanta’s aging water and sewer system. She persuaded the Georgia General Assembly to allow Atlanta to propose a municipal option sales tax that was overwhelmingly passed and has generated money for clean water improvements.
She put in place an economic development plan for the city that includes a branding campaign and transportation improvements. With the help of a commission of city leaders, she developed a plan to reduce homelessness in the city, and started a Gateway Center that daily provides personal and health services to 500 homeless people.
Franklin also created an ethics task force and implemented one of the strongest ethics reform programs in the nation, and implemented “Next Step…The Atlanta Promise,” a program that assists high school seniors in planning for their future.
She spearheaded a campaign to raise $32 million in gifts and pledges to keep a large collection of Martin Luther King’s papers in Atlanta, and she started several programs that have resulted in environmental improvements in the city.
Time magazine named Franklin one of the country’s top five mayors in 2005, and U.S. News and World Report chose her as one of “America’s Best Leaders.” She received the 2005 John F. Kennedy Profiles in Courage Award, and won the Ethics Advocate Award from the Southern Institute for Business and Professional Ethics in 2006.
Franklin has served as president of the Georgia Municipal Association, president of the National Conference of Democratic Mayors and is a member of the Democratic National Committee and treasurer of the Democratic Party of Georgia.
Before becoming mayor, Franklin was Atlanta’s commissioner of cultural affairs. She was chief administrative officer when Andrew Young was mayor of Atlanta and was executive officer of operations when Maynard Jackson was mayor.
Previous speakers for the Holmes-Hunter Lecture include Andrew Young, Jesse Jackson, Vernon Jordan, Nikki Giovanni and Deborah Roberts.