Book Into “From Sagging to Success: The Story of Emery Franklin” Florence M. Howard

Posted on December 6, 2012


Florence HowardFirst, I am someone who likes to write nonfiction, news stories and the like.  I’m a journalist and publicist with degrees in Journalism from the University of Memphis.  I own a small public relations firm that works with small and start-up businesses and nonprofits.  After graduating from the University of Memphis, I was hired by the CBS affiliate in Memphis, WREG-TV Channel 3 and worked several jobs, including copywriter and Director of Community Affairs, for a number of years.

Some crazy things about myself – I am fascinated by spiritual things, I love R. Kelly and think he’s a crazy genius, I am the member of a ski club and have never been skiing or to the slopes.  I have a passion for television and love to read books. I was one of the first students in my neighborhood to get my library card after it was announced that that was an option for black folks in the late ‘60’s. In junior high school, I read Gone with the Wind over Christmas break and during high school I read everything that Frank Yerby had written in addition to the required classics.

I began writing when I was 12.  I built an entire world of characters, a family saga with daily episodes. I didn’t write any of it down.  My absolute favorite writer is J. California Cooper.  I read a book of her short stories once and it just feed my soul and my sense of humor.  To relax, I read different authors.  I float through the grocery store, library or re-sell book store looking for likely suspects.  I also read best sellers and books I find on reading lists. I read the Life of Ptolemy Grey by Walter Mosley; it shocked me and gave me considerable respect for how his mind works.  I know I enjoy a book when I tell the storyline to my friends.

Emery Franklin and I came together when a mutual friend asked me to promote a Black History Month exhibit at the main library by a very talented artist. I spoke with Emery Franklin, who happens to be a terrific marketer, to send me samples of art from the series.  I was thrilled: His work was so vibrant, unique and positive.  I am an art lover so this really worked for me.

We promoted the “Crossroads: From Sagging to Success” exhibit for Black History Month 2011 at the Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library gallery in Memphis.  I actually named the exhibit which he was simply calling “Crossroads.”

The display was up for a month completed with an opening reception on February 1st.   I promoted the event to contacts at schools, libraries, his former classmates and anyone who had attended his alma mater Booker T. Washington High School, most of my who’s who database and the media.  Emery was told that his was the best attended of any art exhibit that the library had had since it opened in 2001.

He was sold on my work and, prompted by his 10-year-old daughter, asked if there was a way to put the painting into a book so that more children and adults could be exposed to them.  That’s how we got started.

I interviewed Emery several times asking him what he meant by each painting.  I thought his perspective was unique, especially his commitment to using the Law of Attraction.  The three to four paintings in the book that deal with the law of attraction using a farmer who is land rich and cash poor. The idea of using a hot, contemporary issue — like sagging pants — as the focus point and combining it with a quest for knowledge through reading was just what the library wanted.  It allowed Emery to highlight a controversial subject and to illustrate his contention that it is not what is on a person’s back but in their hearts and mind that are significant.  Every painting has Emery’s heart and soul in it. Every one of the paintings tells a story – the Emancipation Proclamation with an African American returning to Africa, the cotton fields of the 1940’s after Reconstruction, the Civil Rights Era and Voting Rights Act, the 1968 Sanitation Strike in Memphis.

We also examine the idea that some African Americans may be suffering from low self-esteem due to the history of slavery.   The main character in the book and in the paintings is called Derrick.  He sags in his clothing and in his thinking.  We see the issue of low self-esteem through his eyes and we witness his growth and development into a successful man and father.  Furthermore, Derrick involves his mother and father in the quest for success and together, along with his wife who is not pictured in the book, trains up his son in the love of reading.

I am currently working on my family history and expect to be finished with this 15-year project by the 2013 Reunion.

From Sagging to SuccessMy advice to aspiring authors is the write. If you have writer’s block, do stream of conscious, just hitting the keyboard.   My son is an unpublished writer and I tell him to write every day.  Most of the time, he does. His name is Derrick and I used his personally to bring Derrick in the book to life.  It was Emery’s idea to name the boy in the painting after my son who suffered a traumatic brain injury when he was 10.

Because I am a free-lance writer and publicist, most of what I write is directed toward the media or newspaper reader.  I am a freelance writer for the Tri-State Defender newspaper.  I have also taught mass communications at HBCU LeMoyne-Owen College and journalism classes at the University of Memphis.

I can be reached by email at

The book is available at Books and Beauty, Thomas Kinkade Inspiration Art Gallery and Java, Juice and Jazz in Memphis as well as Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other online booksellers.

The website is

My company website is

I am the president of Secret Shop Communicators (SSCOMM, Inc.), a public relations, training, research and event planning firm opened in 1999.

Florence M. Howard