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Saluting Franklin Beauty School on its 100th Anniversary

For 100 years, Houston’s historic Franklin Beauty School has helped students learn new job skills and launch careers and dreams. This family-owned, workforce development institute has not only graduated a legion of entrepreneurs and leaders, but it has also been a beacon of pride for the state of Texas.

School founder Madam N.A. Franklin and AARP founder Dr. Ethel Percy Andrus had a lot in common. Not only where they women from the Midwest, one settling in Houston and the other in Los Angeles, but both were educators, entrepreneurs and innovators.

Franklin Beauty School 100 year celebration, group picture
(L-R) AARP Regional Vice President, Rawle Andrews, Jr., Franklin Beauty School, Ron Jemison, Jr., Houston City Council member At-Large Position 4, Amada Edwards, AARP Texas State President, Charlene Hunter James, and AARP State Director, Bob Jackson

On January 28, AARP in Houston held a special presentation at Grotto Ristorante on Westheimer Road honoring the school’s owners, Ron and Glenda " Ms. J" Jemison, and their son, Ron, Jr. Among those joining the Jemison family at the event were Houston City Council member Amada Edwards, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (via phone), AARP Texas President Charlene Hunter James, AARP State Director Bob Jackson, as well as Houston staff members and several members of the Houston community.

“As AARP steps up its local presence in Houston this year with a renewed focus on community work, we’re particularly pleased to share in this proud moment involving a very special part of Houston’s history,” said AARP State Director Bob Jackson.

AARP Regional Vice President, Rawle Andrews, Jr. moderated the event. It was a special honor because Andrews, who grew up in Houston alongside the Jemison children, knows all about the family and their contributions to the Bayou City community and Texas.

“The legacy of Franklin goes all the way back to Madam C.J. Walker. We have a slice of Madam C.J. Walker that’s been her in our midst for 100 years plus. They have been putting in work to make sure that mothers, working families and communities of color in particular, but not exclusively, had an opportunity to contribute to a licensed profession. For four generations of leadership, the Franklin-Jemison family has put the work in,” said Andrews.

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Being in business since 1915 is impressive, but more impressive are the contributions this family-owned institution has made to the beauty industry and Texas. Products and services for African American women were created at the school at a time when there was no other supplier. The services in the form of training impacted the lives of tens of thousands of inspiring beauticians and business owners.

“Entrepreneurship is a buzz word that gets used in too many different languages and time frames, but that’s what Franklin Beauty School is about…creating business owners, creating stellar employees and finding a way to contribute to the community at large,” said Andrews.

Through the years, the Franklin Beauty School has established itself as the vanguard of those working tirelessly for economic empowerment for women and communities of color across Houston and the state. One hundred years means something special at AARP and to this great city.

“This is a family business with a positive social mission. It listens to people, invests in people and more importantly, it builds a community for all of us,” said Jackson. “It, like AARP, is creating a livable community that works for everyone regardless of age and circumstances.”

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