Using Mayor Franklin’s example, Any Girl Can Win!

By Tomi Johnson

©2002 WingcomLtd. All Rights Reserved. Photos by Tomi and Kurk Johnson

Mayor Elect Shirley Franklin looked into the crowd at inaugural party.


Unidentified youth seen at inaugural party was accompanied by her mother.

Monday, January 7, 2002, Atlanta, GA…Could this young, unidentified woman attending the Shirley Franklin pre-inaugural celebration at the Georgia World Congress Center on Saturday become mayor of Atlanta in 2022? Using Mayor Franklin’s model plan of motherly support, campaign fundraising, volunteer staffing, hard work, reliance on experience, inclusion, and ethical philosophy, she just might.  That’s the hope that Franklin brings to office - that dreams can be played out in real life.

Shirley Clarke Franklin became Atlanta’s first woman mayor after 57 men have held the post.  With her mother, Ruth White, holding the bible on which to place her hand, Franklin was sworn in a few minutes past noon today by a female judge.

Franklin stumbles over “subdivision” vow, but continues to be sworn in as Atlanta’s 58th mayor while her mother looks on.

Franklin gives first speech as mayor.

Speaking to a standing room only audience at the Boisfeuillet Jones Atlanta Civic Center, Franklin said she is product of Eleanor Roosevelt’s beauty of dreams. “I love Atlanta, ” said Franklin who appears to be a staunch optimist.  “I am humbled by the confidence you have bestowed on me…and am energized by the opportunity you have given me.” 

Everyone who is anyone in the state was there: former Mayor Bill Campbell and wife Sharon; former Mayor Andrew Young who came on crutches; former mayor Maynard Jackson, Sen. Max Cleland, Congressman John Lewis, and Governor Roy Barnes.  There were more “average” citizens in attendance than celebrities, however, all coming out to show their support of Mayor Franklin. The place was packed, proving that Shirley is the voter’s strongest link to City Hall. Franklin was actually introduced as mayor by one of the ceremony’s emcees before she was sworn in, somehow heralding in the fact that many considered her more than mayor-elect before Campbell left office.

In her Inauguration Program remarks, she pledged “to treat all people fairly and to use the power of the Office of the Mayor for the well being of the people of the city.” Franklin said she was ushering in “a whole new era of leadership.”  

Former Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young talks to local political consultant. Young and former Mayor Maynard Jackson supported Franklin.

Franklin further thanked former mayors for laying a good foundation.  She credited William Barry Hartsfield for building a regional airport; Ivan Allen and Sam Massell for making Atlanta a national city for sports and Marta travel; Maynard Jackson for the world’s busiest airport; Andrew Young for the Olympics and international status; and outgoing mayor Bill Campbell for the investment and digital technology boom. 

She said that many women have also helped make Atlanta great, but sometimes the contributions of women have been overlooked.  “All these men AND women paved the way for my election,” Franklin said.


Shirley was compared to the biblical Joseph by Bishop Eddie Long, one of four ministers offering prayers before the swearing in of the city’s new judges, council members, president of the city council Cathy Woolard, and Franklin. “My administration will embrace diversity,” said Franklin, a divorcee with three grown kids. Quoting the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Franklin said people who feel they have a stake in government will help to protect it and not destroy it.  “Help me make this a better place,” she urged those in the audience. The swearing in ceremony culminated with a public reception at SciTrek.

Media Team Member Imara Canady talking with members of the media.

Deputy Chief W.F. Derrick, Major John D. Woodard, and Lt. L. R. Gilbert were at the swearing in ceremony. Franklin is rumored to be performing a nation-wide search for a new police chief.


Franklin greeted well wishers at the SciTrek reception.

Thus ended four days of free, public celebrations that featured African dancing; live music, food and drinks; and laughs sparked by some of the nation’s best talent living in metro Atlanta.  “I’m glad this day has come,” said Imara Canady of Franklin’s media team.

The Atlanta Gay Men’s Chorus performed at the reception.

Food was served at SciTrek reception.

Tickets to the pre-inaugural Saturday night celebration at the Georgia World Congress Center were given out in pairs. Co-Chairpersons Ingrid Saunders Jones, Paul Rosser, and Calvin Smyre invited everyone in the community to the regional celebration. It was kicked off by a welcoming ceremony featuring the Soweta Street Beat Dance Troupe.

The celebration had something for everyone on three sound stages featuring Michael Phillips, Jennifer Holiday, Peabo Bryson, Wings of Faith Choir, Ametria, Ken Ford, Ben Hill Choir, Sonz of Zion, Dottie Peoples, Cherish, 3rd Faze, Jermaine Dupree, Ludacris, 920, OutKast, and DJ Kemit.  Emcees included Chris Tucker, Larry Tinsley, Al Jamal and Vickie Newton.

Entertainers appearing on the Young Democrats stage included Chris Tucker, Outkast, Ludacris, and Sister Act.


With the reception at 6:00 pm and the celebration starting at 7:30 pm, one of the best ways to get there was to park away from downtown and travel via Marta.  The wait in line lasted approximately 25 minutes, bags and purses being checked by security.  Franklin’s team failed the food test for “goose liver” (pate) and cold sausages, but made an A+ for providing a $1.50 coat check and a lounge area for seniors.


Co-chairs Smyre, Rosser, and Jones have fun on stage with Franklin during rap concert. “I’m here to make sure seniors are fully represented tonight,” said Rosser: “The next mayor could be right here in the crowd,” said Smyre.

Model/Actress Ilea Johnson poses with Tomi Johnson of WingcomLtd and members of the media crew, Jamie Brown and Ngaio Killingsworth.  “I didn’t really want to go to a political event because I thought it would be boring, but my mom made me,” said Ilea Johnson. “My mom redeemed herself this time. I really had fun, and I saw other people that I knew there.  I would have been mad if I had missed OutKast.”

Whole families attended Saturday’s celebration. Pictured are Rick and Kym Treadwell and children Kendrick (13), Ebony (12), Nenah (11), Michael (10), and Victoria (2) of Stone Mountain, GA. “I’m trying to groom future voters, and I’m using this event as a civics lesson,” said Rick Treadwell of National Viatical, Inc.  “I want my kids to feel what it’s like to be part of the process and to understand why it’s so important to be involved.  I can point out Dexter King, Tom Brown, and other civic personalities, and I tell them their participation is important in making all this happen in real life, just not on TV.”

Director of Security John W. Smith III of Ben Johnson & Associates LLC looks on from behind loud speakers at Saturday’s event. Smith estimated that the crowd was between 25,000 and 30,000 in halls housing three stages.  “I was born and bred in Atlanta, and I’ve never seen this many people show up for this type event,” Smith said.

CPA Robert Kilby and accountant Marilyn Kilby, formerly from Liberia, survey the reception area far above the crowd at the Franklin celebration.

Franklin’s family members were in the house Saturday, including Kai Franklin Graham, Tremayne Graham, Kali Franklin, and Cabral Franklin.


Linda Curry, Deepak Shah, and Haywood Curry enjoyed the concert

Aaron Johnson of the Franklin Inaugural Committee poses with wife Alanna (l), Dana Smith and WingcomLtd’s Tomi Johnson.  Aaron was one of approximately 500 people serving on the Franklin inaugural committee.

Young Atlantan’s Stage III where the music was really loud. The crowd was excited but orderly.


  “I don’t usually listen to this type of music,” said Haywood Curry, “but my daughter is somewhere in the crowd.  She told me to stand back while she had a good time.  I’m having a good time, too!” Deepak Shah, PE, an international investment and trade developer, said, “It’s time for a change.  Ms. Franklin is very candid, open and inclusive. Being and Indian or Asian American, you sometimes have a feeling of being left out, but Shirley makes you feel included. She will build a great, international city.”

The information in this article is the opinion of the author and should not be construed as libelous.

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