Franklin man to speak at MLK ceremony he founded

Published 8:44 am Saturday, January 14, 2012

CLIFTON FORGE—Frank Davis in 1972 helped organize the first Martin Luther King ceremony in his hometown of Clifton Forge.

On Monday, when the nation marks the late human rights leader’s 83rd birthday, Davis will be the keynote speaker for the 40th anniversary of the event in Clifton Forge.

“It just doesn’t seem like it’s been 40 years,” said Davis, director of the Franklin Parks & Recreation Department. “I was honored. I’ve always cherished my years in my hometown.”

Cynthia Boteler, student activities director for the Dabney S. Lancaster Community College in Clifton Forge, chose Davis as the speaker because of his involvement in the initial event.

“This ties in nicely with our program,” Boteler said.

Born and raised in Clifton Forge, Davis joined the military after high school. When he returned home, Davis couldn’t find a job so he enrolled at Dabney S. Lancaster Community College under the GI Bill.

In November 1971, Davis ran for the Student Senate and had been elected president; the Student Senate came up with the idea to have a community program for Martin Luther King, who four years earlier was gunned down in Memphis.

That first program focused on diversity, Davis said.

“We had members of the white church and the black church, and I used my father, who was vice mayor of Clifton Forge, as the speaker,” he said.

For Monday’s presentation, Davis plans to focus on the same theme.

It will be about “how the Student Senate at the time represented a diverse people and how we came together and worked on the program,” the 64-year-old Franklin man said. “My thing is about people working together to make a difference for the communities that we love.”

From the community college, Davis went on to Virginia State University, where he earned a degree in recreation education.

He worked in his field in Charles City, Hopewell and Chesterfield County before coming to Franklin 15 years ago.