Former Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin speaks with Albany State University President Everette Freeman before the start of Friday’s Convocation at the university. Franklin said that America needs leadership from the students, challenging them to make something of themselves.
ALBANY ALBANY — Former Atlanta mayor Shirley Franklin urged Albany State University students to challenge themselves to find solutions to the worlds’ problems.
Franklin was the guest speaker at Friday’s Honors Convocation — a celebration of Albany State University honors students.
“America needs your leadership,” Franklin said, as she spoke of the globalization of the free-market economy. “Your competition isn’t in Atlanta, it’s in Shanghai.”
Franklin served as Atlanta’s mayor from 2001 through 2009, overseeing expansion at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport and launching a billion-dollar overhaul of the city’s aging sewer system.
After telling a story about how she and ASU President Everette Freeman attended Howard University together in the 1960s — she described him as a leader and herself as a follower — Franklin said that she would eventually learn that knowledge without action is often pointless.
“We’re here today to honor you for your accomplishments and good grades,” Franklin said. “But why I came to Albany State today was to encourage you to use that intellectual ability ... to use the knowledge that you’ve gained, to take that passion for learning and to use it for doing as well. Not instead of, but also.”
Franklin’s topics ranged from leadership, to the value of community involvement, to water conservation.
“What does that have to do with honors day? Everything,” Franklin said. “We celebrate two things on honors day — your many accomplishments, which are to be applauded, and the application of those things that you’ve learned, so that you are leading into the future.”
Franklin urged the group to use their time and efforts to improve society and to be innovative in their thinking.
“As young scholars, all of you can push yourselves to be better, and better and better at your scholarship,” Franklin said. “But your scholarship must lead to the kind of changes that are going to make this a peaceful world, a safe world, and a fair world.
“If you don’t have peace and safety and fairness we will spend all of our time and money trying to dominate other people or have them trying to dominate us.”