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Our Vision

 Franklin Global, LLC

A Speaking & Consulting Firm

Founded in 2019

Franklin Global is purpose-driven organization built on a collaborative model. Franklin Global seeks to enlighten our clients on the history and complexities of the African American journey while helping them more deeply understand and effectively address contemporary issues of race and equality important to the mission and reputation of their organization and service to society.


Franklin Global encourages the conversations, partnerships, and collaborations that further stimulate creative and more humanistic approaches, innovations and best practices to enhance our clients’ unique work environments, capabilities, internal and external relationships, and reputation.


Inspired by the scholarly and civic rights legacy of John Hope Franklin, Franklin Global also supports initiatives that explore, question and spotlight issues of race and social equity in their most profound historical and global dimensions.

John W. Franklin

Managing Member


John W. Franklin has specialized in the history and culture of Africa and its Diaspora for the past 50 years. He has lived in Senegal and worked and traveled extensively in Africa, the Caribbean, Brazil, Canada and Europe.  Franklin’s focus has been on France, its role in the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, French Colonization, and the contemporary French-speaking world, from Louisiana to Mauritius. Fluent in French, he is a sought-after speaker in the US, the French-speaking world and beyond.

John Franklin studied Cultural Anthropology at Stanford University. Franklin’s career at the Smithsonian Institution began in Dakar, Senegal, while he was teaching English for the Senegalese Ministry of Higher Education. He served as the Africa-based researcher for the Smithsonian’s 1976 Bicentennial Folklife Festival and presented the African and Caribbean delegations in Washington and across the United States.  From 1987-1992 he organized seminars and symposia for the Smithsonian’s Office of Interdisciplinary Studies.  From 1992-2005 he served as curator for the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage’s festivals on the Bahamas (1994), Cape Verdean Culture (1995), Washington, D.C. (2000), and Mali (2004).

In 2005 Franklin was among the first staff members of the Smithsonian’s 19th museum, the National Museum of African American History and Culture, which opened in 2016. As Senior Manager in the Office of External Affairs, he built partnerships for the museum with universities and museums in the United States, Canada, Brazil, The United Kingdom, France, West, East, and Southern Africa and the Caribbean. 

For ten years Franklin served on the Board of Directors of the West Africa Research Center, based in Dakar. He served on and chaired the Maryland Commission on African American History and Culture, during which he was a member of the team which built the $3 million expansion of the Banneker-Douglass Museum in Annapolis, Maryland and the $30 million Reginald Lewis Maryland Museum of African American History and Culture in Baltimore, Maryland. Franklin also served on the Board of Governors of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, a think tank. He edited “My Life and an Era: The Autobiography of Buck Colbert Franklin,” with his father, John Hope Franklin. He has lectured for the U.S. Department of State at the State Department, to its visitors to the US, and at universities and museums in Brazil and France, as well as virtually around the world.

Since his retirement from the Smithsonian in 2019, John Franklin established Franklin Global LLC, to continue to lecture on cultural issues and consult with cultural and educational institutions. He currently serves on the French President’s Advisory Commission for the Foundation for the Memory of Slavery and the Slave Trade. He works closely with UNESCO’s Slave Route Project, developing conferences on the contemporary impact of slavery. For the past several years, he has focused on the legacy of slavery at American universities and advising Davidson’s College’s Race and Slavery at Davidson Commission.  John developed and taught a course on Tulsa for Duke University's Samuel Dubois Cook Center on Social Equity. Franklin has been engaged with universities and organizations in Tulsa in preparation for and in the after math of the centennial of the 1921 Race Massacre. He taught a class on Forced Migrations at Oklahoma State University - Tulsa. At the University of Tulsa he gave the 22nd Buck Colbert Franklin Memorial Civil Right Lecture in October of 2022. In 2023, Franklin was elected to the Board of Trustees of the University of Tulsa 

Karen Roberts Franklin

Managing Member 


Karen Roberts Franklin is a global executive with deep expertise in business strategy, people management and organization development, particularly in the technology and professional services sectors. She received her B.A./B.S. in psychology and biology from Boston College, she began working as a sales representative in the Federal Office Systems Division of IBM. Following her successful tenure at IBM, she obtained her MBA from George Washington University.  Her corporate career included sales executive positions in Washington, D.C. and New York City at IBM, American Hospital Supply Corporation and Hewlett-Packard. Subsequently, she has spent the last three decades as a Realtor in Maryland and Washington, D.C.  Since 2019, she is a Managing Member of Franklin Global, LLC.

A native Washingtonian, she is currently researching her families' history in South Carolina, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C. 

Karen has traveled extensively professionally and personally, domestically and also internationally. Her international travel includes many countries in Africa, Europe, and the Caribbean as well as Brazil and Canada.  Karen is an active participant in numerous community and civic organizations including the Association of African American Museums (AAAM), lifetime member of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) and the Museum Association of the Caribbean (MAC). For over thirty years she has been a member of the National Association of Realtors (NAR), Maryland Association of Realtors (MAR) and the Greater Capital Area Association of Realtors (GCAAR). She is an engaged member of the Silver Spring (MD) Chapter of the Links, Incorporated. She has been a health advocate and navigator for seniors for four decades. 

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