LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) — It’s been a long year since Lexington activist, Anita Franklin, died.
Her passing didn’t just leave a hole in the community but also at the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office where she had recently started working after a long career in nursing.
We spoke to her son Ricardo who’s trying to carry forward her work by following in her footsteps.
“I can’t stop because of tragedy I have to keep going,” says Ricardo Franklin.
At 22, Franklin has experienced more tragedy than most. In 2014, he lost his older brother Antonio, an innocent bystander, to gun violence.
It’s what sparked his mother’s activism and if you knew Anita Franklin you knew her power. It’s still there even after she died from a heart attack in February.
“She became such a force to so many people that it just made me think ‘hey what can I do to keep that going?’,” says Franklin.
Keeping her legacy going is now a full time job for him – his first “big boy job” since graduating from UK.
Fayette County Sheriff Kathy Witt hired him to be a community outreach coordinator, his mother’s last job, left empty since her death.
“She always told me she was proud of me,” says Franklin. “It would be the most random texts in the middle of the night she’d say ‘I’m proud of you I love you’ so I just see her saying ‘I’m proud of you I love you keep doing what you’re doing’.”
Franklin says he wants to continue his mother’s mission of trying to stop gun violence. He says he’ll use his own story to help change young people’s paths.
“I feel like especially after tragedy like my brothers passing you do face a decision of where you can retaliate or you can get better and heal,” says Franklin. “And I chose that path and I chose to be there for my mom and my family. I couldn’t let that define who I was and I had to keep going.”
Something else he hopes to accomplish in this role is mending relations between the black community and law enforcement.
“I feel like especially in a time where tensions are high I always say there’s a lot of hate in the world but there’s also a lot of love so I can’t wait to at least exert that onto everyone else,” says Franklin.
It’s a big task and one he doesn’t take lightly.
“I hope that I can bring a sense of unity and peace together with all community members and I hope we can get Lexington to where it should be,” says Franklin.
Making his legacy, continuing hers.