Franklin High School
550 N Broad St


School districtThe School District of Philadelphia
PrincipalGregory Hailey[1]
Staff35.64 (FTE)[2]
Enrollment484 (2017–18)[2]
Student to teacher ratio13.58[2]

Benjamin Franklin High School is a public high school located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States. The school, located north of Center City, is a part of the School District of Philadelphia. Franklin serves sections of North Philadelphia and Center City.

Franklin is a mostly African American school.[3] In the late 1960s, there was a student-led effort to rename the school in honor of recently slain Malcolm X.[4] This effort officially failed, but some students still refer to the school by this name.[5]

Around 2005, Franklin began housing a charter school catering to Chinese Americans.[6] In addition, as part of an international studies academy, it added Mandarin Chinese as a foreign language for study in 2005. The new international studies focus attracted 40 new students from the Chinatown area.[3]


Benjamin Franklin High School, side facade with murals, 2016
Benjamin Franklin High School, side facade with murals, 2016

Although housed in the 37-year-old building previously used by Central High School, Benjamin Franklin High School was dedicated on April 26, 1939. Two-thirds of the faculty and two-thirds of the student body were carried over from Central. Franklin's first principal, Dr. A. Oswald Michener, was to coordinate "the century-old tradition of Central High School with the modern spirit of scientific inquiry which Franklin represented."[7]

Following World War II, nearly 5,000 returning veterans were provided with twelve to fourteen months of special classes at Franklin under the auspices of the Veterans Accelerated Program. In 1947, there were 1,800 veterans in classes, and graduates had enrolled in over 200 colleges and universities, including Harvard.[8]

During the McCarthy era, Francis P. Jennings, President of the Philadelphia Teachers Union and a social studies teacher at Franklin, was suspended for alleged communist activity. Testifying before the House Un-American Activities Committee, he declared that teachers were required to sacrifice constitutional rights to qualify for employment.[9]

Conservative economist and columnist Walter E. Williams, who graduated in 1954, was a critic of Franklin,[10] but praised English teacher, Dr. Martin Rosenberg.[11]

Wesley Cook, although he never graduated, was a student at Franklin. In 1969, as a fourteen-year-old, he was inspired by a Black Panther Party newspaper to become involved in that movement and was one of those who proposed changing the school's name to honor Malcolm X. Subsequently, at the suggestion of a Kenyan teacher of African studies at Franklin, he adopted a "class" African name, Mumia, to which, following the birth of a son, he later added Abu-Jamal. As Mumia Abu-Jamal, he was convicted of murdering a police officer and while in prison became well known as an author.[12]

Over a period of many years, Franklin athletes have had successful careers. George Nock, Wendell Tucker, and J. T. Turner played for the National Football League,[13] and Fred Carter, Paul Graham, Pooh Richardson, and Randy Woods played for the National Basketball Association.[14] Bryant Jennings is a heavyweight championship boxer.[15]

In September 1979 the school opened up to the first 9th graders and females. The class of 1979–1980 graduated its first and only female, Iris Chase, who wore a white and red robe instead of a blue and gold one.[citation needed]

Franklin was one of the first high schools in Philadelphia serving the African American community. By the late 1980s the school had become run down and plagued with violence. Conditions at Franklin worsened when the School District of Philadelphia cut the school's funding due to many economic problems in the area.

Dropouts and transfers were common. There were 164 freshmen enrolled in 1986, and another 71 entered the following fall, but only 181 graduated in 1990, a loss of 22 percent.[16]

In 2007, a $4 million renovation was made. The renovations included the gymnasium, auditorium and classrooms, and front entrance facade, as well as the replacement of doors and windows. In order to create new classroom space, a small rooftop building addition was constructed, with the addition of new steel dunnage and air handling units.[17]

In 2011, James Brunson Lauren Murphy-Sands and Larry Conlan started a rugby team. Their story was made into a 2019 film called The Nomads.

In January 2016 a fight occurred in a hallway, and an individual fired a gun. Nobody was injured by the gunfire, and one student was arrested.[18]

Zoned neighborhoods

Franklin serves several areas, including the Fairmount, Spring Garden, the section of Northern Liberties south of Poplar Street, and portions of Center City, including Chinatown, Old City, Rittenhouse Square, Logan Square, and Society Hill.

In 2005 Chinatown was zoned to Franklin.[6] Franklin currently serves Harrison Plaza, Richard Allen Housing Projects and Francisville.[citation needed]

Feeder patterns

Feeder K–8 schools include:[19]

Former feeder K–8 schools include:[20]

Notable alumni


  1. ^ "School Profile". Archived from the original on 2011-09-20. Retrieved 2011-09-18.
  2. ^ a b c "Franklin Benjamin HS". National Center for Education Statistics. Retrieved January 8, 2020.
  3. ^ a b "China's clout echoes in classes, To spread the word on global needs, schools add Mandarin instruction. Paul Vallas hopes students join the crowd and learn a language spoken by 1.3 billion." The Philadelphia Inquirer. Monday October 31, 2005. B01 Local News Philadelphia & its Suburbs. Retrieved on November 8, 2011. See clipping at
  4. ^ Moore, Acel. "Stamp Honoring Malcolm Shows How Times Change." The Philadelphia Inquirer. February 23, 1999. Retrieved on December 12, 2016.
  5. ^ "A Philadelphia fencing prodigy". Archived from the original on 2015-08-17. Retrieved 2015-07-27.
  6. ^ a b Snyder, Susan. "Selling schools – to families, A new campaign touts 20 Center City sites. Its aim: Retain the middle class. Schools pitch aims at stemming flight of the middle class." The Philadelphia Inquirer. Monday August 22, 2005. City-D A01 Local. Retrieved on November 8, 2011. First page clipping and second page (A7) clipping at
  7. ^ "Dedication today at high school". Philadelphia Inquirer. April 26, 1939. p. 19. Retrieved December 21, 2018.
  8. ^ Nolan, Joseph F. (December 29, 1947). "Franklin Course Aids 5000 Vets". Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved December 21, 2018.
  9. ^ "26 Teachers Are Suspended Here for Refusing to Answer Red Quiz". Philadelphia Inquirer. November 21, 1953. p. 1. Retrieved December 23, 2018.
  10. ^ Williams, Walter (July 28, 1980). "Minimum wage as a part of the cycle of poverty". Philadelphia Inquirer. p. 19. Retrieved December 21, 2018.
  11. ^ Williams, Walter E. (2010). Up from the projects : an autobiography. Stanford, California: Hoover Institution Press. pp. 16-18. ISBN 978-0-8179-1254-3.
  12. ^ a b Burroughs, Todd Steven (2004). "Part I: "Do Something, Nigger!"". Ready to Party: Mumia Abu-Jamal and the Black Panther Party. The College of New Jersey. Retrieved 2008-01-22.
  13. ^ "Benjamin Franklin Alumni Pro Stats". Pro Football Reference. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved December 21, 2018.
  14. ^ "NBA & ABA Players Who Attended High School in Pennsylvania". Basketball Reference. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved December 21, 2018.
  15. ^ Fernandez, Bernard (December 6, 2012). "Out to be the best, spar none: Jennings on fast track in heavyweight division". Philadelphia Inquirer. Daily News. p. 42. Retrieved December 21, 2018.
  16. ^ Burton, Cynthia (June 20, 1990). "They Laughed, They Cried, They conquered". Philadelphia Daily News. Retrieved December 21, 2018.
  17. ^[permanent dead link]
  18. ^ "Juvenile arrested in Ben Franklin shooting". The Philadelphia Inquirer. 2016-01-30. Retrieved 2016-11-11.
  19. ^ "High School Directory Fall 2017 Admissions" (Archive). School District of Philadelphia. p. 30/70. Retrieved on November 16, 2016.
  20. ^ "Benjamin Franklin High School Geographic Boundaries Archived 2016-03-03 at the Wayback Machine." School District of Philadelphia. Retrieved on November 11, 2016.
  21. ^ "Fred Carter". Basketball Reference. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved December 21, 2018.
  22. ^ "Paul Graham". Basketball Reference. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved December 21, 2018.
  23. ^ Santoliquito, Joseph (April 24, 2018). "Bryant Jennings just wants a little respect". The Ring. Ring TV Live. Retrieved December 21, 2018.
  24. ^ Connelly, Eileen AJ (2020-07-20). "Overlooked No More: Brad Lomax, a Bridge Between Civil Rights Movements". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-10-23.
  25. ^ "George Nock bio". Retrieved January 6, 2018.
  26. ^ "Pooh Richardson". Basketball Reference. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved December 21, 2018.
  27. ^ "Wendell Tucker bio". Retrieved January 6, 2018.
  28. ^ "J.T. Turner bio". Retrieved January 6, 2018.
  29. ^ "Walter E. Williams". CATO Institute. Cato Institute. Retrieved December 21, 2018.
  30. ^ "Randy Woods". Basketball Reference. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved December 22, 2018.

Coordinates: 39°57′49″N 75°09′44″W / 39.9636°N 75.1621°W / 39.9636; -75.1621