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Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson

Reverend, W. Franklyn Richardson was born on June 14, 1949 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania’s Westside. His father William Franklyn Richardson Sr. worked in the meat packing district, and his mother Amanda Richardson owned a beauty parlor. Richardson is the eldest of four and grew up anchored in the church. He attended West Philadelphia High School and obtained his B.A. degree from Virginia Union University in Richmond, Virginia. In 1975, he earned his master of sacred theology from Yale University, and his doctorate as a Wyatt Tee Walker Fellow from the United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio.

At the age of eighteen Richardson delivered his first sermon at Community Baptist Church in Philadelphia, where he was issued a license to preach. By the age of nineteen, Richardson was subsequently, full-time pastor of Rising Mount Zion Baptist Church in Richmond, Virginia and St. James Baptist Church in Varina, Virginia. In 1975, Richardson delivered his trial sermon at Grace Baptist Church in Mount Veron, New York, a year later he was selected to serve at Grace as senior pastor. In 1976, Grace Baptist Church hosted the New Year’s Eve Watch Night service aired on national radio opposite the New Year’s Eve service hosted by the pope. The following year, Grace’s Christmas service aired on CBS (coordinated by actor Ossie Davis). In 1982, Richardson became the host of WVOX, 1460 radio broadcasted nationally every Sunday morning. He is the founder of, “Windows of Grace”, Grace in Port St. Lucie Florida, and the Freedom School. Richardson has been selected by Al Sharpton to serve as chairman of the National Action Network. As chairman, his responsibilities included leading the organization on raising the consciousness of African-Americans.

Richardson has been inducted into the Martin Luther King, Jr., Board of Preachers at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia. He has also been elected as General Secretary for the National Baptist Convention United States of America, Inc. Richardson has served on the World Council of Churches Central Committee, the Ujamaa community development corporation and the Harvard University Divinity School Summer Leadership Institute. He has been presented with the Red Cross Award and in 2010, delivered a sermon at Saint Matthew Anglican Church in Soweto, South Africa. Richardson currently resides in Scarsdale, New York. He is married to Inez Nunnally Richardson; they are the parents of two adult children and the grandparents of four.

Accession Number

A2012.122

Sex

Male

Interview Date

5/18/2012

Last Name

Richardson

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Franklyn

Occupation
Schools

West Philadelphia High School

Virginia Union University

Yale Divinity School

United Theological Seminary

Thaddeus Stevens Elementary School

Belmont Charter School

Hardy Williams Academy

Community College of Philadelphia

First Name

W.

Birth City, State, Country

Philadelphia

HM ID

RIC16

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Pennsylvania

Favorite Vacation Destination

Monte Carlo, France

Favorite Quote

My, My, My, My, My.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

6/14/1949

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Fried Chicken

Short Description

Religious leader Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson (1949 - ) was the senior pastor of the Grace Baptist Church and the chairman of the National Action Network.

Employment

Grace Baptist Church

National Action Network

West Park Hospital

Hankins Funeral Home, Inc.

Rising Mount Zion Baptist Church

Conference of National Black Churches

Favorite Color

Blue

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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson describes his mother's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson describes his mother's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson talks about his mother's upbringing and career

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson describes his father's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson describes his father's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson describes his father's education and professions

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson describes how his parents met

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson remembers his brother

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson talks about his sister's acting career

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson describes his parents' personalities and who he takes after

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson describes his childhood home

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson remembers his childhood pastimes

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson describes his early experiences of religion

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson remembers the African American community in West Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson describes his early education

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson describes his conditional admission to Virginia Union University

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson describes the Community Baptist Church of West Philadelphia in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson describes the Civil Rights Movement in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson recalls his early involvement with the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc.

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson describes his experiences at West Philadelphia High School in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson remembers his calling to the ministry

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson describes his experiences at Virginia Union University in Richmond, Virginia

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson recalls how he came to pastor the Rising Mount Zion Baptist Church in Richmond, Virginia

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson remembers the assassination of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson talks about the formation of the Progressive National Baptist Convention, Inc., pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson talks about the formation of the Progressive National Baptist Convention, Inc., pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson recalls his professors at Virginia Union University in Richmond, Virginia

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson describes his organizational activities at Virginia Union University

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson remembers Reverend Dr. Wyatt Tee Walker

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson remembers Reverend Gardner Taylor

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson describes how he came to pastor the Grace Baptist Church in Mount Vernon, New York

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson talks about the history of the Grace Baptist Church

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson recalls his admission to the Yale Divinity School

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson remembers the Yale Divinity School in New Haven, Connecticut

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson talks about his graduate degrees

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson remembers his seminary professors

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson describes his affiliation with the Morehouse College Board of Ministers and Laity

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson recalls his appointment to the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson talks about the Grace Baptist Church in Port Saint Lucie, Florida

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson describes the Grace Children's Defense Fund Freedom Schools

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson talks about the National Action Network

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson talks about the shooting of Trayvon Martin, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson talks about the shooting of Trayvon Martin, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson describes the role of the Conference of National Black Churches

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson talks about the theology of storefront churches

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson shares his stance on gay marriage

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson talks about his board memberships

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson describes the Our Faith Empowers program

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson talks about the notable members of the Grace Baptist Church in Mount Vernon, New York

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson talks about Grace Baptist Church's webcasts

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson talks about the Virginia Union University Board of Trustees

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson reflects upon his life

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson talks about his family

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson describes how he would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

5$3

DAStory

7$6

DATitle
Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson describes the Grace Children's Defense Fund Freedom Schools
Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson remembers his calling to the ministry
Transcript
Tell me about the Children's Defense Fund Freedom School [Grace Children's Defense Fund Freedom Schools, Mount Vernon, New York].$$Oh man, wonderful. As you know [HistoryMaker] Marian Wright Edelman who worked with Martin Luther King [Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.] in the Civil Rights Movement, one of the byproducts of the movement was she created--well she had a concern that the children of the future would be in better conditions as a result of civil rights and that there continued to be racism that affected children. So she created the Children's Defense Fund [Washington, D.C.] with the purpose of trying to protect children, advocating on behalf of children; legislation, programs and so forth. One of the byproducts of her program is she ended up creating what we call Freedom Schools. Freedom Schools are the result of her passion for the children. I learned about Freedom School, I was invited--she bought the Haley Farm [Alex Haley Farm; Children's Defense Fund Haley Farm, Clinton, Tennessee] and they have retreats there once--annually and other times, but there's a Proctor, Sam Proctor retreat [Samuel DeWitt Proctor Institute for Child Advocacy Ministry] that she invited me, they invited me to come speak. While I was there, I was exposed to Freedom Schools. And when I heard about Freedom Schools I was so impacted and influenced that I decided that I would ask our staff to look into how we could do that--we had to have Freedom Schools. So ten years ago we started our first Freedom School. Freedom School is a summer program, six weeks, that's designed to complement public education and to put self esteem into the students. It's based on African motifs; it's written--it's designed for--with a curriculum that's designed for motivation, self esteem. All of the authors are black authors. They get twelve books they read in the course of six weeks. They're exposed to successful African American leaders from mayors to doctors to lawyers to pastors. They come in the mornings and read to them. They go on field trips that are designed to motivation. The whole curriculum, we bring, we take college students, send them to Haley Farm and train them on how to be Freedom School facilitators, and then when the summer comes, we hire the college students to teach the Freedom School scholars. We started out with fifty, then we went to 100, then we went to 150, last year we had six hundred and this year we're going to have six hundred. It cost us about one thousand dollars a student; we don't charge the parents anything. The parents have to pay by--they have to be every Tuesday night at parenting meetings where we give them skills on how to be better parents, more effective parents and so forth. There are so many transformational stories of kids whose lives turned around as a result of Freedom School. Kids who weren't interested in education, weren't interested in school, they go to Freedom School, they go back and the teachers tell us they can't believe the transformation. Some kids had given up on getting an education but Freedom School provides--because Freedom School affirms your identity. It celebrates your blackness, it tells you the story of the struggles of our people. So it's a wonderful place. I'm a total advocate of it. I mean, I wish that every black community in America had the resources to have Freedom Schools. So we, we have sustained this for ten years; we're going to have a ten year anniversary this year of Freedom Schools here in Mount Vernon [New York] that--sponsored by Grace [Grace Baptist Church] and our community development corporation [Ujamaa Community Development Corporation, Mount Vernon, New York].$Now did your mother [Amanda Ellison Richardson] and your uncles kind of--?$$No they, they never, I think that my mother--I think all of my family always thought I was going to be a minister no matter what I said. They felt that I had the markings on me of being a minister and that it was obvious that I was going to be that. In their view there was no question, even though they never pushed it or advocated it, they just put me in the environment. And (laughter), when I decided when I was in high school [West Philadelphia High School, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania] I wasn't going to be a minister, I was going to be a doctor. So I went to high sch- went to work for West Park Hospital [Philadelphia, Pennsylvania] after school my last year or the last two years, the eleventh grade. And that's when I was an orderly and so forth. I met the doctors there and they liked me and they said if I were to graduate they would help me go to medical school and so forth. But at the same time, I still struggled with this idea about ministry trying to suppress it and ultimately I had a surgery in 1966, appendectomy, emergency surgery.$$You were like sixteen?$$Right. The surgery was in '65 [1965], and my last year of high school. So at that--long story short, I promised the Lord that if I got through the surgery 'cause at the end of the surgery--the surgery wasn't so bad, but the ap- the spinal they gave me we- malfunctioned and I ended up being paralyzed longer than I was supposed to be and that was really traumatic. And in the process of that, I told the Lord I would go ahead and accept the ministry and preach. When I got out, I still wasn't going to do it (laughter); I still was going to be a doctor. I'll never forget the mixed emotions my dad [William F. Richardson, Sr.] had. When I came home after having presided a funeral one night, I told him I decided I was going to go into the ministry and be a preacher. My dad kind of like you know it was all right that I was going to do that, but he had his mind set on his son being a doctor (laughter). So I accepted--I called my pastor [James Hamlin] the next day and told him that I had finally decided that I'm going into the ministry, I want to go to school. So he said come over and meet with me, and I met with him and from there I ended up preaching my trial sermon, my initial sermon before I left for college, then I went on to Virginia Union [Virginia Union University, Richmond, Virginia]. So that's the journ- the walk for me.$$Now what did you preach about? What was your first sermon about?$$May 27, nineteen sixty--1967. I preached I have no need to want, the Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want [Psalms 23:1]. I talked about the, that, that there's no need to want, that God provides all that I, all that I need and that that was worth celebrating, I have no need. Kind of living life with a guarantee, under a--with a foundation, under, underpinning, a s- a net to catch you 'cause God will provide my needs. So I remember that (unclear) it's been fifty- almost fifty years ago.