Obituaries » Byron Franklin Dudley
November 15, 1964 - September 2, 2019
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Byron Dudley Franklin was born on November 15, 1964 to Mary Franklin and Dudley Franklin (deceased) in Queens, New York. He was baptized in the Catholic church, was an altar boy at Christ The King, and attended Catholic schools for primary school, middle school, and high school. Growing up Byron was a talented piano and drums player, was a model student, and always had the ability to evoke laughter and joy.
While attending high school at St. Francis Prep, Byron was a rapper MC known as Romeo Delight and a B-boy break-dancer in a rap crew called Paradise Express. He was also a part of Afrika Bambaataa’s Zulu Nation. Byron graduated from St. Francis Prep in 1982 and then went on to attend Syracuse University.
During Byron’s time at Syracuse he became a well-known DJ on campus. And in the spring of 1984, Byron was initiated into the Delta Beta Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. along with 12 other young men. It was during this time that he became known as DJ Zulu. Byron quickly gained a national reputation as a premiere DJ and DJed parties, weddings, and special events across the country; he even went on a European tour with rap pioneer Busy Bee in 2005. Byron graduated from Syracuse University in 1986 with a BS in Finance from the Whitman School.
After graduation from Syracuse Byron did a stint as a claims adjuster for Allstate Insurance Company but knew he wanted to be a lawyer. In 1989 Byron matriculated into the University of Baltimore School of Law. While in law school he was a charter member of the Delta Chapter of the Sigma Delta Tau Legal Fraternity, Inc. After graduating law school in 1992 Byron worked as an associate at his line brother’s law firm Bailey & Bailey in Harlem, New York.
In 1993 Byron was blessed with the birth of his daughter Anju. With new responsibilities as a father, Byron then embarked on a lifelong career as a contract lawyer doing primarily document review and case analysis work. In 2004 he was blessed with the birth of his son Chad.
In 2006 he became an Adjunct Professor at Coppin State University (Baltimore, MD) teaching courses such as Political Theory and Special Topics in Political Science with particular attention to the African American experience. In 2011 he also became an Adjunct Professor of Law at his alma mater teaching a course entitled Race and the Law. And most recently, Byron worked closely with the daughter of Malcolm X Ilyasah Shabazz, and worked on government projects for Veteran Affairs and the Department of Labor.
Before his death, Byron started his transition into Islam and was active in a Baltimore mosque. He also got to see the motherland – traveling to Nigeria in 2017. But two of his proudest moments was this past spring when he walked his daughter down the aisle at her wedding to Padraic, whom he loved like a son; and when he watched his son Chad be awarded as MVP of his high school division for track and field.
Byron was an ardent activist when it came to advocating for the plight and rights of African Americans and was willing to educate all who would listen. He was often invited to speak on panels or radio shows and even had the pleasure to be the keynote speaker at a Georgetown Law function and Pace University event. Byron had an amazing photographic memory, excellent oratory skills and public speaking voice; was always the life of the party; and was an unmatched step master, and created Beat Stepping in the 1980s which is still the foundation of fraternity and sorority step-shows today.
After his faith and family, Byron was most passionate about his Fraternity. He would often lead step teams to victory, perform one-man step shows, lead Fraternity chants and songs, attend regional and national conventions, and teach younger brothers not only steps but fraternity history.
Byron is survived by his daughter Anju F. Kane; son Chad A. Franklin; mother Mary Franklin; sister Sharlene Franklin; son-in-law Padraic Kane; God-daughter Jade McKenzie, his Pieces of a Dream Spring 1984 Line Brothers; a host of family, friends, and colleagues; and his Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Brothers.
Whether you knew him as Byron, Romeo D, Mr. McZulu, DJ Zulu, Zulu Beat Show, Zulu Beats, or just plain Zulu he will surely be missed.