Change has come: Let’s help Franklin, vicinity rise once more

Published 6:48 pm Tuesday, February 4, 2020

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By Dr. William Scott

In February 1964, Sam Cooke’s song said: “It’s been a long, a long time coming, but I know that a change is gonna come.” He wrote the song because in October 1963, he, his family and his musical band was refused lodging in a Holiday Inn in Shreveport, Louisiana, and arrested for disturbing the peace. That song became another rallying cry of the civil rights movement. The song was sung, played, lectured and even preached to this country for 43 years, and when Barak Obama used its theme in his presidential election victory speech in 2008, the audience went wild with applause, demonstrating their understanding of his words. In his speech, he purposely said, “It’s been a long, a long time coming, but change has come to America.”

In April of 2016, I wrote an article for The Tidewater News titled: “The passing of an era requisites the fuel: ‘Franklin on the Rise.’” The article spoke to all the hard work of those that had helped build Franklin and vicinity into a thriving neighborhood of diverse communities — separate but perhaps not equal. Still, each neighborhood was proud of its accomplishments, and prided itself with a sense of belonging, a sense of custody, and a sense of unity. And those folks living along its main thoroughfare — South Street — would always quietly assert, “it’s been a long, a long time coming, but change is gonna come.” That generation has passed on and now it is our turn to help Franklin and vicinity rise. How? By recognizing the change that has happened.

That change has finally arrived in the election of the county sheriff, Josh Wyche. Sheriff Wyche is deserving of the office he now holds. He has all the qualifications needed for the office. But it is not about him, but what he represents in this area; he’s an agent of change that has self-activated, self-reflected and self-deflected a major fault in the community: capsulated apathy.

It seemed to be divine providence (the natural involvement of God) that defused that “capsulated apathy,” thus allowing right and honest people of all ethnicities to usher in the needed change. Change is always risky, but it takes fortitude, courage and the will to do the right thing in the face of the risks. Even as God intervenes, there are forces that would even oppose Him!

Yes, change has come to Franklin and the surrounding vicinity. New challenges, new attitudes, new risks and new people are coming to the fore with new ideas to move the area forward. Some of these people have familiar names when their names are vocalized, e.g., Fisk, Crower, Thompson, Reddick, Murphy, Porter. You probably know someone with that last name. But as is the custom in this area, we usually address them by their first names: Amy, Debbie, Derrick, Jason, Squeak, Henri. These are real people that are contributing to the community in their own special way. I, for one, like the name Henri. Its unique spelling sets it apart. It’s not like Henry Cabot Lodge, the Republican Senator and historian from Massachusetts or Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, the American poet and educator whose works include “Paul Revere’s Ride,” or even Henry Louis Gates Jr, the teacher, historian, filmmaker and public intellectual who serves as the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and Director of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University. This Henri is a local born and bred devoted individual that looks to needed changes in his community and has the right vision to cause that change. If you saw him walking down the street, you’d just look at him as an average person taking a casual walk. But should you stop and have a conversation, he’d relay a vision, a message, a rough plan that would uplift your heart, your expectation, your concern to help make the streets safer, the roads better, the economic conditions in the areas considered blight, better. You’d want to join him and his vision, his concerns, his economic outlook. He’s not a big “I” and a little “Y” person. He is one that is willing to work in unison and in harmony with those willing to advance the change that has occurred in this area.

Henri! Get to know him. Henri, the unique person with a unique name. Henri, who holds his hand out to help. Remember this person as “Henri with the helping hands.”

Like Sam Cooke who was inspired to write about his troubles that echoed similar troubles for 43 years. Like President Obama’s election that fostered those troubles, ushering, what were considered foreign, back into the nation consciousness (the dark side) of this nation. And even while Franklin and vicinity was suffering from social and economic changes in the country, both in goods and services coupled with climate changes (the flood), there was still hope for a better tomorrow. And like the agent of change who inspired the folk to rid themselves of the capsulated apathy that had crippled them, the area continued to fight the good fight as like-minded people like ‘Henri with the helping hand’ forged ahead. Put him in your conscious! Put Henri Porter in your daily thoughts and prayers as we walk forward together helping and assisting Franklin rise once more.

DR. WILLIAM SCOTT is a guest columnist for The Tidewater News. He can be reached at