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ONYX Presents: A Conversation With Tori Franklin

Tori Franklin shattered school records at Michigan State University in the triple jump, and is now a two-time American record holder who's just getting started.

ONYX host Monica McNutt recently had the opportunity to sit down with Tori Franklin, the record-breaking American triple jumper.  ONYX, a platform dedicated to celebrating Black women in sports, is a safe space for these women to discuss their experiences: the good, the bad, and the ugly. Hopefully the conversation will inspire a new drive for change. 

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Franklin graduated from Michigan State University and shattered all the school’s records in the process. Below are just a few highlights from the insightful and inspiring conversation with Tori Franklin.

What are you most proud of as far as being a Black woman in sports?

I’m most proud of the fact that I’m able to have this platform so that other young Black girls can see a woman that looks like them succeeding and also being a good influence and, and just being educated and being out in the world and pursuing things that maybe they don’t see a lot of people that look like them.

On the flip side of that story, in what ways are you most challenged as a Black woman in sports?

Traveling can be difficult sometimes. Some of the countries that we go to, they don’t see a lot of Black people.  So, you know, sometimes you get stared at, or, you know, things of that nature, but I think as far as being a Black woman, that’s one of the more difficult things to navigate.

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How did you navigate becoming a pro?

Yeah, I’m not sure. You know, God has plans that we’re not always prepared for. I found my coach in Chicago completely coincidentally. I was on my flight to the 2016 Olympic trials where I sat with a man on a plane and he said, ‘Oh, you know, I know a guy in Chicago who’s coaching,’ and you know, I’m from Chicago so I’m like, sure. And that ended up working out and me and him broke the American record. It wasn’t something, you know, that I planned … I believed in myself and it  had been me and my college coach, his goal, you know, for years. But it’s just different when it actually comes into fruition. And it was a very difficult first year. I switched jobs like three or four times. I was working a lot. It was tough though.

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What sort of to this point is the most powerful compliment that you’ve received from a young Black woman?

The most powerful compliment I’ve ever received was a little girl told me, I think she was in like middle school, she told me that she did her school project on me. And I was like, ‘I’m in the history books so people can research and do projects.’ That was exciting. So that was probably the biggest one.

When I think of track and field and I think of wonderful Black women. I think of  (Florence Griffith Joyner) automatically, right? Like she had the nails; she was just gorgeous. And to me, coming from basketball, it seems like track and field is a space that celebrates individuality. … Did you have to kind of make a decision on how you want it to be represented in this space or did it just come with you being Tori?

It just came naturally for me. In college I used to wear these big white hoop earrings when I competed. Um, I think that was just how I showed my individuality, my diva, you know, on the runway. So now I’ve kind of switched to just like wearing my hair out more, which I started to do my senior year. … So I don’t think it wasn’t something that was conscious per se. It was just how I wanted it to feel on the runway, how I wanted to feel powerful, like a lioness and still beautiful. 

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