Clarence Vaughn Franklin (C L Franklin)--born 1915 in a Mississippi sharecropper family--became a nationally known and respected Baptist minister of Detroit, Michigan. He was known as the "man with the golden voice," not only for his singing, but also for his command of the classical style of Negro preaching. His parents were Rachel and Henry Franklin.
Precocious, he was Baptized at ten and at sixteen nominated for ordination and then accepted as an associated pastor of St. Peter's Rock Baptist Church in Cleveland Mississippi.
He later served as pastor in Memphis at New Salem Baptist Church and then at Friendship Baptist Church in Buffalo, NY. he then settled down for 33 years at New Bethel Baptist Church in Detroit.
C.L. Franklin married Barbara Siggers, a church pianist, and had five children: Erma, Cecil, Aretha and Carolyn, as well as half-brother Vaughn. At Bethel, Franklin started a food ministry for those who could not afford sustenance for themselves or their families, offered financial and legal help for the homeless, and conducted a prison ministry.
He also became involved in politics by urging voters to go out to the polls and vote for the qualified candidates he was endorsing and was an active member in the civil rights movement.
He co-organized the 1963 "Walk Toward Freedom March" with his close friend, Martin Luther King, Jr. He was also actively involved in such organizations as the Urban League, NAACP, and on the Executive Board of the Southern Christian Leadership Council.
C.L.'s sermons were broadcast on radio nationwide under the Chess Recording Company banner. Rev. Franklin also released 76 live recordings of his sermons and music. He preached at churches all over the country and often brought his daughter, Aretha, though all the children joined CL in his road entourage at one time or another.
His life was shortened, in June 1979, when he was shot during a robbery attempt on his house in Detroit. He remained in a coma for 5 years and died on July 27, 1984. Over 10,000 people attended his funeral at New Bethel Baptist Church.
Detroit's mayor, Coleman A. Young, renamed Linwood Street as C. L. Franklin Boulevard, and renamed the park, (located 2 blocks from C. L. Franklin's house), C. L. Franklin Park.