New York

Rochester mourns passing of Franklin Florence

Rochester, New York – Rochester civil rights icon Franklin Florence has died. He was 88.

He came to Rochester in 1959 to serve as pastor of the Reynolds Street Church of Christ.

He later became president of the civil rights group FIGHT, formed after the 1964 Rochester Race Riots.

Rochester Mayor Malik Evans was among those mourning Florence, as the mayor issued a statement on Wednesday:

“When we use the expression ‘standing on the shoulders of giants’ we are talking about men like Secretary Franklin D. Florence, without exception.

Minister Florence was a giant among giants in Rochester’s proud legacy of social justice and civil rights. Appropriately, his name and likeness are now embedded in the cityscape: on a mural on the outside wall of East High School, alongside Malcolm X and Connie Mitchell; and as namesake of Secretary Franklin D. Florence’s civil rights heritage site in Baden Park.

Since arriving in Rochester in the 1950’s, Secretary Florence graced our community and the national stage with a dynamic voice advocating for the causes of Black Americans and the universal causes of social justice. In the words of the late Congressman John Lewis, Secretary Florence was never afraid to get into “good and necessary trouble” to expose racial and systemic injustices on a wide range of issues. These included: quality housing; criminal justice and corrections; fair labor practices; equitable education, child welfare and generational poverty.

Minister Florence, a man of God, has gone home to the Lord and has his faith as the earthly embodiment of Proverbs 31:8-9: “Open your mouth to the mute, to the rights of all who are in need. Open your mouth, judge fairly, defend the rights of the poor and needy.”

My prayers and deepest condolences go out to his family, community and many, many friends. The City of Rochester is truly blessed to have been the home and canvas of grace of Minister Franklin D. Florence, a giant among giants.”

New York State Senator Jeremy Cooney also tweeted his condolences, calling Florence “a giant in the fight for equality.”

“To me, he was someone who was fearless,” said Free the People Roc’s Stanley Martin. “He’s someone who believed we deserved change and was willing to do whatever it took to get there.

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