Sunday, September 4, 2011

The Pink Franklin Case & The NAACP

      The Pink Franklin case is most noted for being the NAACP's first legal challenge on behalf of the Negro race. 

     The Case: (Orangeburg county, S. Carolina):   In 1907, Pink Franklin, 21, a Negro day laborer (some versions claim he was sharecropper), agreed to preform work and signed a labor contract for which he was paid up front.  When Mr. Franklin failed to show up to preform his agreed upon work, the employer holding his contract swore out a warrant for his arrest. Constable Henry Valentine allowed the warrant to sit on his desk for more than two months, likely waiting for (hoping?) Mr. Franklin would settle up what he owed.  When no word was heard from Mr Franklin, the constable finally decided he had to act. The constable, along with another man, W.M. Garter, (both Americans) went to Mr. Franklin's home at around 3 a.m.  (note: day laborers would leave for work at the crack of dawn, so this was not an unusual time). The constable and his partner waited until daybreak to approach the Franklin home.  The constable and his partner then obtained the assistance of a neighbor of Mr. Franklin, a white male, who was also his current employer,  to go over to the Franklin home, wake him and inform him that work needed to be done that day, and hopefully with the offer of some work, lure Mr. Franklin out of his house. However, Mr. Franklin refused the work and stayed in his home, whereupon the constable decided to enter the home and there make the arrest.  Apparently, the front door was left ajar when the neighbor left the premises and the constable, after rapping on the front door with a "metal object" (likely his pistol) and shouting his presence, which produced no reply,  proceeded into the home. Mr. Franklin then suddenly emerged with his gun and shot the constable. The constable, however, though mortally wounded,  was still  able to get a round off himself, which struck Mr. Franklin in the shoulder.  After shooting constable Valentine, Franklin then turned his gun to the rear door, where W.M. Garter went to prevent an escape, and continued to fire.  Garter wound up seriously wounded by Franklin's gunfire. Mr. Franklin's wife was also wounded but apparently by her husband's wild shooting.   Pink Franklin quickly fled his home...and eluded capture for three days. Mr. Franklin, along with his wife, were both arrested for the murder of the constable and wounding of the W.M. Garter.  1
    Pink Franklin, who was represented by Negro attorneys, pleaded self-defense, claiming the constable failed to identify himself before entering his home, and that he (Mr. Franklin) feared it was a burglar and therefore had the right to protect himself and his family.  After an all-American jury was selected, the prosecutor presented his case, which was fairly straightforward and simple: (1) Even though it was early morning, Mr. Franklin was already awake and in a full conscience state; (2) the constable rapped loudly on the front door with a metal object and identified himself as he walked into Mr. Franklin’s house; (3) Mr. Franklin knew someone was at his front door, which is why he retrieved his gun   (and by the voice announcing his presence, Franklin had to realize it was a white male)

    The all-American jury certainly had to be aware that Mr. Franklin was aware that taking money for a job and not fulfillng his obligation would constitute theft,  and therefore he should have expected the constable to be coming to his residence to arrest him. The  jury also didn't believe Mr. Franklin's obvious tall tale about defending himself from a white burglar -- indeed,  just what on earth would a white male burglar hope to find of value in the tiny home of Mr. Franklin, a marginally employed day-laborer? When the jury returned with their verdicts,  Mrs. Franklin was acquitted of all charges. However, Mr. Franklin, the jury decided, intentionally ambushed the constable with the intent to murder him.  He was held accountable for his actions and found guilty of murder.  The judge sentenced him to death.  In essence, the all-American jury refused to pity Mr. Franklin; nor did the judge. But this was the pre-compulsory integration South.  And in the South at this time the prevailing general attitude among Americans was that the Negro simply was not to be pitied because of his race.  However, the NAACP had just come into existence (dominated by northern Christian socialists, who called themselves “progressives”) … and they were in fact demanding pity based on color - even if it involved murder.  
    In 1910, Mr. Franklin’s case came to the attention of an American named Albert Pillsbury, who was an attorney willing to do pro bono work for the NAACP.  The Franklin case represented a scenario that would play itself out countless times over the course of the next 50 years for the NAACP, where they, in obvious efforts to curry favor among the black race, always would side with blacks, criminal or civil cases, and imply that the black man, or the black race, was getting taken advantage of, hoodwinked or bamboozled by the too often racist, inhumane and heartless American population (i.e. white Christian males).  

  Albert Pillsbury, along with another American, Oswald Garrison Villard, Treasurer of the NAACP, petitioned the Governor of South Carolina for clemency for Mr. Franklin. Frances Blascoer, a Secretary for the  NAACP, also traveled to S. Carolina to persuade Mr. Franklin's Negro attorneys to allow the NAACP to represent Mr. Franklin before the S. Carolina Supreme Court.2    Mr. Villard petitioned Booker T. Washington as well to get involved in this case, but he showed no interest in it (no prominent Negro men seemed willing to come to Mr. Franklin’s aid - at least there is no existing record of their efforts). The Governor of South Carolina, Martin Ansel, whether persuaded by the NAACP or other fellow Americans, did commute Mr. Franklin’s sentence to life in 1911.   Mr. Franklin was paroled for "good behavior" in 1919 by the new [American] governor of South Carolina, Richard I. Manning. 

12 years for the intentional murder of a white man?!  It seems the cruel, heartless and inhumane Americans that the NAACP was claiming took advantage of the black man everywhere, well, really wasn't quite everywhere.  


1. The Crisis Magazine's version states, which was a version likely created by the Negro defense attorneys, that the constable "barged" into Franklin's tiny home then,  without uttering a word, made his way to the bedroom, and upon seeing Mr. Franklin and his wife, immediately opened fire. This version should be regarded as nonsense. Common sense tells us the constable, entering a darkened home, would certainly have announced his presence - and more than once.  Also of note is that Franklin could have shouted to the white person that he that he had a gun, which Franklin clearly did NOT do. Why?  While no one knows exactly what happened in the Franklin home that night, reasonable common sense tells us that Franklin intentionally ambushed the constable. The prosecutor, the jury and the judge all believed this to be the case.

2. There is also a claim that Secretary Blascoer met with the Governor of South Carolina on Mr. Franklin's behalf. Highly unlikely, as the Governor would not have known of the existence of the newly formed NAACP.  I'm also skeptical of the claim that the NAACP hired lawyers for Mr. Franklin, as the organization at that time had no money to do such a thing.
archived newspaper account LINK


  1. I have a question, why do you refer to everyone except Pink Franklin as an "American". Also, based on the history of violence in this country, I think Mr. Franklin had plenty to fear about a white man coming in his house in the middle of the night, but most lynch mobs didn't knock.

    1. The recognized Americans from 1790 to 1964 were the people who were responsible for creating all the political & economic arenas in America in that time period,, as well as establishing the "American identity":: White Christian males (including their females). The compulsory integration act (AKA Civil Rights Act - 1964) stripped white Christians of their American identity and gifted it to everyone//anyone who lived in, or managed to get to, the to US. The former Americans are now "white people" and the "American" today is nothing but a political expression. Romans went thru this very same identity destruction process..