Robert Franklin

Robert M. Franklin, Jr.

James T. and Berta R. Laney Professor in Moral Leadership


PhD, University of Chicago, 1985
MDiv, Harvard University, 1978
BA, Morehouse College, 1975


(404) 727-4176


In his position as the inaugural James T. and Berta R. Laney Chair in Moral Leadership at Candler, The Rev. Dr. Robert M. Franklin, Jr. challenges students to explore the concept of moral leadership in the 21st century in different cultures and contexts in the United States and around the world. Now in his second term at Emory, Franklin is a former Presidential Distinguished Professor of Social Ethics and a senior fellow at the Center for the Study of Law and Religion, both at Emory, and was also the founding director of Candler’s Black Church Studies program from 1989 to 1995.

In addition to his role at Candler, which he began in 2014, Franklin is a senior advisor to the Emory University president, as well as for Community and Diversity at Emory. He was director of the religion department at The Chautauqua Institution from 2014-2017, president of Morehouse College from 2007-2012, and president of the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta from 1997-2002. In 2016, Franklin was named to the Human Rights Campaign’s project council on expanding LGBTQ equality and inclusion efforts at Historically Black Colleges and Universities. He is on the board of Demos and on the Council of Past HBCU Presidents, and a member of several professional organizations, including the American Academy of Religion and the Society of Christian Ethics.

One of the nation’s foremost public theologians, Franklin has authored four books: Moral Leadership: Integrity, Courage, Imagination (Orbis, 2020); Crisis in the Village: Restoring Hope in African American Communities (Fortress, 2007); Another Day’s Journey: Black Churches Confronting the American Crisis (Fortress, 1997); and Liberating Visions: Human Fulfillment and Social Justice in African American Thought (Fortress, 1990). He co-authored From Culture Wars to Common Ground: Religion and the American Family Debate (Westminster John Knox, 2001). He also penned the foreword to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s, Letter from Birmingham Jail, reprinted by Trinity Forum in 2012.

Franklin is an ordained minister in both the American Baptist Churches USA and the Church of God in Christ.


Moral Leadership: Integrity, Courage, Imagination, Orbis Press, 2020

Crisis in the Village: Restoring Hope to African American Communities, Fortress Press, 2007

Co-author, From Culture Wars to Common Ground: Religion and the American Family Debate, Second Edition, Westminster John Knox Press, 2000

Another Day’s Journey: Black Churches Confronting the American Crisis, Fortress Press, 1997

Liberating Visions: Human Fulfillment and Social Justice in African American Thought, Fortress Press, 1989


Co-author, “The Role of Historically Black Colleges and Universities in Cultivating the Next Generation of Social Justice and Public Service-Oriented Moral Leaders During the Racial Reckoning and COVID-19 Pandemics,” in American Journal of Community Psychology, January 20, 2023.

“RFK’s Still a Leadership Role Model for Youth,” in Atlanta Journal-Constitution, June 08, 2018

“Rehabilitating Democracy: Restoring Civil Rights and Leading the Next Human Rights Revolution,” in Journal of Law and Religion, Cambridge University Press, October 01, 2015

“Puncturing the Myths: The Legitimization of Inequality,” in Inequality Matters: The Growing Economic Divide in America and Its Poisonous Consequences, The New Press, January 01, 2005

“Healthy Marriages in Low-Income African American Communities, Part 1,” Annie E. Casey Foundation, January 01, 2004

“Tough Love: How Religion Enhances and Complicates American Public Life,” in Perspectives on Leadership, University of Virginia Press, January 01, 2003

“Great Preaching, Awesome Music, and Revolutionary Action: The Mind, Movement, and Legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr.,” in Princeton Seminary Bulletin, vol. 23, no. 2, Princeton Theological Seminary, January 02, 2002

“A Theological Consideration of Non-conformism: Discrimination Against Gays and Lesbians, Blacks, and the Poor,” in Faith Leaders on Inter-group Relations: Perspectives and Challenges, The National Conference for Community and Justice, January 01, 2002

Peter Gomes Award, Harvard Divinity School, 2018

Alumnus of the Year, University of Chicago Divinity School, 2010

Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters, Swarthmore College, 2010

Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters, Bates College, 2009

Christianity and Politics

Moral Leadership in International Perspectives, South Africa Travel Seminar

Principles and Practices of Moral Leadership

Religion, Ethics, and Civil Rights

In the media

October 20, 2023

Jewish and Muslim faith leaders grapple with how to support congregants

August 22, 2023

From MLK to today, the March on Washington highlights the evolution of activism by Black churches

July 21, 2023

Some critics see Trump’s behavior as un-Christian. His conservative Christian backers see a hero

May 3, 2023

‘National Day of Prayer’ observed in Georgia Thursday

October 10, 2022

‘Saved by Grace’: Evangelicals Find a Way Forward With Herschel Walker

July 3, 2021

Can America become one big happy family before her 250th birthday?

June 16, 2021

Opinion: Moral leadership’s still important

June 15, 2021

Political Rewind: A Year After Pledges And Promises, Have Companies Delivered On Workplace Equity?

March 13, 2021

Sex abuse scandal at Zacharias ministry forces staff cuts, new direction

February 16, 2021

Local Religious Leaders Discuss New PBS Documentary About The Black Church

January 20, 2021

I’ve lived in both Americas. Most people everywhere don’t want to hate each other

January 8, 2021

Warnock wants to keep preaching on Sundays; can he?

Decorative SVG Decorative SVG