Fighting for Opportunity in Southwest VA: The Story of Penny Franklin

Cross-posted from Mike Signer- New Dominion Project

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Penny Franklin had had enough. Her children were being harassed in
Montgomery County public schools. She was no stranger to hard work or
adversity; she’d supported her family for decades by working on a
loading dock. She was no stranger to leadership, either; she served as
president of IUE/CWA Local 82160. But when it came to her kids, she
thought she needed to step up.

In response to her children’s experiences, Penny became the president of
the local NAACP. Soon, she was asked to run for school board. An
African-American had never been elected to public office in Montgomery
County, but Penny was not daunted. She won handily.

Throughout her service, increasing opportunity has been Penny’s overarching aim—fighting for the middle class, which she sees as key to building a strong Virginia and a great America. She explained that coming from a working family helps her to help folks “understand the importance of the middle class that helped build this country and will maintain this county.”

She expanded: “If we do not elect politicians who will understand and
support that, the United States will become a two-class county…. It will
be a sad day in the United States.”

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