Seven-time Grammy-winning gospel artist Kirk Franklin was welcomed to Clowes Memorial Hall this past Friday by more than a thousand people who heard him speak as a part of Butler’s Distinguished Lecture Series and give a live performance backed by the Butler University Gospel Choir.
Part of the music industry for nearly twenty years, Franklin’s presentation focused not on money, fame, talent or making it big, but on determination, faith and accountability.
“I was expecting a lecture about how to incorporate Christian values into your life,” said Butler sophomore Tiera Patterson. “But when I got there, it was so much more than that – it was more relatable. He wasn’t speaking just about being a minority in America but being a person in America.
Franklin started with the story of the beginning of his childhood, when he was adopted at the age of four. Franklin became the son of a 65-year-old woman named Gertrude, whom he credits for making him the man he is today.
“When I got older, I definitely had some abandonment issues,” Franklin said. “I kind of lived under a cloud because I saw my biological parents sometimes. But Gertrude was instrumental in my introduction to faith. She had a personal passion, an ideology, which is something I latch strong to.”
Gertrude and Franklin struggled for each other in a lot of ways – she even went to the streets, sifting for metal to pay for his music lessons – but from that, Franklin learned about hard work, sacrifice and accountability.
One example Franklin strongly emphasized was Dr. Conrad Murray’s involvement in Michael Jackson’s death.
“You had these two men of great influence,” Franklin said, “that refused accountability in their own lives. Michael Jackson was dead on arrival by the time he got to the hospital. Because of the lack of accountability, because Dr. Conrad Murray was influenced by money and power and celebrity, the King of Pop was dead on arrival.
“Opportunities are snatched from people,” Franklin continued, “because those in positions to be able to make a difference did not do their jobs correctly—because they did not have the right type of accountability.
“Sometimes we forget that the power to change dwells inside of us.”
Being held accountable is something Franklin says has been integral in his journey through faith. He became a born-again Christian at age 15, and said his faith is something he must always work on.
“And like any relationship, it’s been one of growth,” he said. “Just fumbling the ball and always trying to get back up.”
Franklin’s lecture, Personal Accountability: Challenging the Global Community, was part of Butler’s Spring 2012 Distinguished Lecture Series, a collaborative diversity initiative between Butler and the Mayor’s office to both promote multicultural awareness and increase interaction with ethnically diverse scholars and personalities.
The Distinguished Lecture Series will next host Liberian peace and women’s rights activist Leymah Gbowee, winner of the 2011 Peace Nobel Prize. Her address, Educational and Leadership Opportunities for West African Girls, will take place on Feb.16, 2012 at 11:30 am in the Reilly Room. Admission is free and open to the Butler community, but registration is requested at (317) 940-6570.