DORA ALICE FRANKLIN FINLEY IN HER OWN WORDS
I was the eldest daughter of the late James H. Finley, Sr. and Joycelyn Franklin Finley. My parents were Civil Rights Advocates who instilled in me, a conviction to contribute to the physical and spiritual health of my community. My grandfather, Dr. James A. Franklin, Sr. also endowed me with a humanitarian legacy of service to the community.
Although a native of Mobile, after marriage, I lived for five years (1973-1978) in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. My professional career started as an accountant at Iowa Electric Light and Power Company. I was later appointed to the position of deputy director for a business development office, Iowa Development and Economic Assistance Systems (IDEAS). After the birth of my daughter, Nicole, I moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan in 1978 and completed my undergraduate degree with a BBA from Eastern Michigan University in 1982.
Upon my return to Mobile, I taught mathematics at John L. Leflore High School and later became a loan officer at Commonwealth National Bank. I earned my Masters in Business Administration from Spring Hill College and launched my 25-year career in Managerial Logistics with Scott Paper Company/Kimberly-Clark Corporation. Subsequent to my recent retirement, I looked forward to making valuable contributions to the physical and spiritual health of Mobile’s community.
After retirement, my second career has focused on community contributions through working with church and community associations. Through the development of the Mobile African-American Heritage Trail, valuable history has been secured in the discovery of Mobile’s forgotten chapters of local African American history.
I leave a legacy of an African-American historic trail that is illuminated by stories of "courageous contributors" recognizing their determination and struggle for the inspiration and triumph of all generations to come.
Board of Directors
President Karlos Finley • Vice President Cheryl P. Franklin, DNS, RN, MN ,BSN • Secretary Medina Trenier • Treasurer Dr. Coleridge Franklin • Director of Communications/PR Kelly Finley • Tour Director Eric Finley • Historic Marker Committee Chair Marcia Hall • Directors: Sheila Flanagan, Charlotte Greene, Kimberly Pettway
Karlos Finley, President
On behalf of the Dora Franklin Finley African-American Heritage Trail (DFFAAHT), you are invited to go back in time and explore the unique history of Mobile, Alabama. We are a city entrenched in struggles, challenges and triumphs steeped in Mobile's African-American culture, aptly described as "unique and one of a kind". Journey through history so rich and thorough and a time when European and African explorers first landed on the shores of the Gulf Coast and began populating this land we now know as, the United States of America. You will travel through time, more than 300 years back in history and brought into the modern age of today's diverse community. We thank you in advance for allowing us to introduce you to such vital, pivotal and essential history designed for all to learn from. In the words of our late founder, "you can't know where you're going, if you don't know where you've been." We look forward to meeting you on the Dora Franklin Finley African-American Heritage Trail.
Joycelyn A. Finley, Ph.D.
1956 - 2021
Always in our Hearts
At the time of her passing, Dr. Finley served as the Vice President of the Dora Franklin Finley African-American Heritage Trail of Mobile, the District 1 Representative for the Black Heritage Council Board, a member of Leadership Mobile Class of 2017, and as a member of the Delta Theta Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Joycelyn Finley, II continues to be cherished by family and friends.
The first program and notice of an unveiling of the DFFAAHT occurred on May 27th, 2007. You will notice that we were formed as "The Black Heritage Trail" at that time. Under the leadership of Dora Franklin Finley, we evolved to "The African-American Heritage Trail" and upon her passing Mayor Samuel Jones and Mobile city council resolved to name us "The Dora Franklin Finley African-American Heritage Trail of Mobile". Our board and the formal name of our 501 (c) (3) has always been and remains the "Friends of the African American Heritage Trail, Inc.". Our organization has grown exponentially over the past 15 years initiated by Dora's mission and vision, initially engaged (c) 2002 by City Councilman William Carroll. We will continue to grow. Our mission continues to evolve and grow and it is our honor to travel this journey with you. I know that it is Dora’s and Joycelyn’s as well. Welcome all!
Our Sincerest thanks to:
City Councilman William Carroll, District 2
Historic Markers funded by:
Samuel L. Jones, Former Mayor of Mobile
Councilman William Carroll, District 2
Former Councilman Fredrick Richardson, Jr., District 1
Historic Markers and Tours funded by:
Mobile County Commissioner Merceria Ludgood
University of South Alabama College of Education,
Department of Instructional Design and Development
Mobile County School Board
Southern Poverty Law Center
Archival Photographs courtesy of
The University of South Alabama Archives