We stand in the shade of a tree planted by others

DFranklin2DFranklin2 1Born and educated in Atlanta, David Franklin loved Atlanta and all the possibilities it offered for all Atlantans never expecting African American economic opportunities would come without controversy and lots of public debate. Rarely did he speak in public settings but he had lots to say in hundreds of conversations and to political allies.
This is one of the few letters found in his desk when he died a few years ago. The letter to Atlanta Journal Constitution’s Jack Tarver along with a Hosea Williams campaign poster, a Maynard for Mayor button and a copy of a 1974 New York Times article about Atlanta politics along with family photographs were worthy of saving as prized possessions.
Forty-one years ago David and a small group of black and white leaders joined Mayor Maynard Jackson in pushing open the doors of economic opportunity in public and private business sectors. Such courage was demonstrated by few but many have benefitted. The biggest beneficiary is the city itself whose economy has grown by leaps and bounds over four decades.
This week was David’s 73rd birthday and it reminded me of a familiar phrase. We stand in the shade of trees planted by others. Thoughtful, grateful people know so and are thankful for the opportunities afforded them by the actions of others. Only fools think otherwise or worse, believe that they stand alone as champions for their or the city’s success.


  1. Burroughston Broch says:

    “The biggest beneficiary is the city itself whose economy has grown by leaps and bounds over four decades.”
    What leads you to that faulty conclusion? Let’s look at some facts.
    1. Economy is proportional to population. Atlanta City’s population has not grown by leaps and bounds over the last four decades. In 1970 the City’s population was 495,000 – 8.5% greater than today. The City’s population bottomed out at 394,000 in 1990 – 20% less than its peak.
    2. As a result of Maynard Jackson’s efforts, Atlanta City pays some of the highest costs for construction and other public works due to the very policies you praise. The City’s black set-aside purchasing policies drive up the cost by ensuring the right private hands are greased on every project. Every non-black firm wanting to do business with the City must have the right partner with the right City Hall connections on the team. Material purchased from a non-black supplier is billed through a black supplier at added cost and no added value. All of these added costs must be paid in part or in whole by the City’s taxpayers.