After her husband was gunned down on a Boston street, Mary Franklin became a fierce advocate for families who lost loved ones in unsolved crimes. Mary died last year, and 7’s Jonathan Hall reveals how future generations are now championing for the change she started. 

Gunshots rang out on a Dorchester street 26 years ago.

Melvin Franklin was killed trying to stop a robbery near his home. 

“He was wonderful, caring, respectful,” Omari Franklin, Melvin’s grandson, said. 

Melvin’s murder changed his wife forever.

Mary Franklin channeled her grief into finding his killer.

Her grandson, Omari Franklin, says soon, she was supporting other Boston families experiencing the same heartbreak. 

“She tried to use what she knew to help the others because they were feeling the same pain,” Omari said.

Mary became an advocate, leading protests and pressuring police.

She camped out at Boston City Hall and wouldn’t leave until the mayor at the time, Marty Walsh, met with her.

She earned the esteem of the prosecutors she was pushing for justice.

“She pushed us to focus on those unsolved cases. We need people like her, heroes in our community that really care,” Kevin Hayden, Suffolk County District Attorney, said. 

“She held us accountable. She was a fierce advocate for her husband and for other people that were in the horrific situation of being a survivor of homicide, and for that, I respect her dearly, Rachael Rollins, U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts, said. 

After decades of fighting to find her husband’s killer, Mary was forced into a different fight. She was diagnosed with colon cancer.

Last year she lost her cancer battle. Omari likes to think of her being with Melvin again.

“She talked to him in front of me. I’ll see you soon. I’m coming home, baby. I’ll be there,” Omari said.

Omari hopes what began as a tragedy on a Dorchester street can lead to good. His grandmother wanted to open a mental health center designed to help people experiencing the same pain she suffered when she lost Melvin, and his killer wasn’t found. Mary believed it was a special kind of PTSD and many doctors agree.

“You’re always having this hyper-vigilant state. It’s almost as if your mind doesn’t know that this is an old memory. It’s reliving as if it’s a current trauma again and again,” Dr. Katherine Gergen Barnett, M.D., from  Boston Medical Center, said.  

Now Omari and other advocates are getting closer to opening one of these centers.

“That was her vision that was her goal. I think it was an innovative one which I applauded. In fact, maybe we name it after her,” Hayden said. 

“I think she would be proud,” Omari said.

Doctors at Boston Medical Center and at Tufts are trying to get a center up and running. To see what you can do to help, click this link for more information. 

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