Sister Marilyn Aiello, OP

Marilyn Aiello, OP, was featured on the Feb. 28 WKRG CBS Channel 5 news broadcast in Mobile, AL, during Black History Month in a story titled “The Legacy of Dr. James A. Franklin: ‘It wasn’t about color. It was about health.’” As a doctor, he was threatened by a lynch mob for touching a white woman who received health care from him at the pleading of her husband because she was dying from Spanish flu in 1916. He then fled with his family from Evergreen, AL, to Mobile and began practicing medicine there. Marilyn said, “The black community did not feel welcome in white areas, so it was very difficult, and that’s why Dr. Franklin was so essential and important. He was welcomed [in Mobile], he was highly educated and a good doctor, and he never turned anyone away.” He died in 1972, and his death left a void in the community that encouraged Marilyn to become a physician in her mid-30s. “Mrs. Finley was the daughter of Dr. Franklin, and she told me that if I ever became a doctor, that I could, and they would be happy, if I would use their clinic in memory of their father. So that deeply inspired me to apply for medical school,” she said. Marilyn founded Franklin’s Primary Health Center in Mobile, and the nonprofit continues to operate on a sliding scale based on income.