Bruce Franks Jr. is an activist, a rapper, and a former member of the Missouri House of Representatives. The story of his unlikely election as a state representative and his time advocating for his St. Louis community is chronicled in the award-winning documentary St. Louis Superman, which made its broadcast television debut on Monday, May 18 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on MTV, MTV2, and VH1.
But Franks resigned from the Missouri House of Representatives in 2019 for mental issues. Here’s what you need to know about why he had to take a step back and what he’s doing now.
Franks Has Been Very Open About His Mental Health Struggles
According to St. Louis Today, Franks announced his pending resignation in May 2019, then in July, he announced that his last day as a state representative would be July 31.
He posted the news to Facebook, writing, “I love my city, but I can’t heal from trauma and survive in the epicenter any longer. I’m not running away from it I’m choosing to change my environment to be the best version of me. I’m making a selfish decision and it feels great. If I don’t make this move, St Louis is going to kill me.”
Franks has been very open about the mental health strain he has suffered and the long recovery process that has gone with it after witnessing his nine-year-old brother’s shooting death when Franks was a kid. But that wasn’t the only thing taking a toll on Franks.
In his Facebook post, he also criticized politicians “playing this game with the people’s lives,” leaders who look like him “but perpetuate the same systemic oppression,” and “white progressives who call themselves allies but don’t see the value of black spaces, black representation or lived experience.”
In an interview about the documentary, filmmaker Sami Khan told POV Magazine that fighting against the unjust system is why Franks had to get out of politics.
“Bruce has the line in the film early on that says, ‘The system wasn’t built for us.’ He realizes that, but many people from his community don’t,” said Khan. “He has difficulties with the system, whether he falls outside the lines of what an establishment candidate or politician would do, then he gets pushed back and that’s ultimately why he left electoral politics.”
Franks Now Works For The Community Justice Action Fund
After resigning from the Missouri State House, Franks went to work as a senior advisor for the Community Justice Action Fund, which holds elected officials and community leaders accountable for ending gun violence in communities of color across the nation.
In January 2020, Franks was part of launching an initiative called “Policymakers for Peace,” which is designed to form “a network of informed and empowered leaders directly impacted by gun violence” in order to “support the passage and implementation of key policies at the state and local that tackle gun violence from an equity lens.”
In the press release, Franks said in a statement, “My community motivated me to get into politics. I grew up just a few miles from where Michael Brown was killed, and his death sparked something in me and in my community. My experience in politics and activism has been rooted in community, and so is this initiative. For too long, communities like mine, families like mine, have suffered from gun violence. To end this epidemic, we need initiatives such as Policymakers for Peace that center impacted communities and empower them to advocate for real solutions that will make our communities safer and allow them to heal.”
St. Louis Superman makes its broadcast television debut Monday, May 18 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on MTV, MTV2, and VH1.
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