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Cultural Diplomacy

Franklin was the face of the Smithsonian in many arenas. He represented the Smithsonian in its negotiations with heads of state to plan and produce the annual Smithsonian Folklife Festival. Based in Senegal in the 1970s he worked with the African Diaspora Program to bring delegations from Ghana, Nigeria, what was then Zaire and Senegal to Washington, D.C. He negotiated with the President of Senegal (1990) the Prime Minister of the Bahamas (1994) the President of Cape Verde (1995) and the President of Mali (2004) and their respective Cabinets to feature their countries at the Festival. For the Bicentennial of Washington D.C. in 2000 he worked with members of diverse communities to share their religious, food, music and other cultural traditions with the public.

From 2005-2019 he introduced the concept of the National Museum of African American History and Culture to museums, universities and government officials in Canada, Brazil, throughout the Caribbean, Europe and Africa. He helped develop partnerships with institutions in these regions. Once the museum opened in 2016 he hosted delegations from around the world curious to see the new museum. He continues to help organizations understand the complexity of their staff and the public they serve.

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