WXYZ-TV Detroit - The passing of Dr. Arthur L. Johnson should not be taken lightly! Johnson was a quiet but staunch champion for justice. He spent the bulk of his outstanding career fighting discrimination and using his reputation to open doors for people of all races and creeds.
He left us just a few days shy of his 86th birthday. I guarantee you that the celebration of his life will be powerful and inspirational. Johnson will be saluted by a wide range of people.
There will be those who remember him fondly from his Morehouse College days in Atlanta. Yes, Johnson and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. were classmates who graduated in 1948 as proud and brilliant African American Morehouse Men from the all-male historically black college. It has often been said that you can "tell a Morehouse Man but you can't tell him much!" Johnson fit that quote comfortably. He was a scholarly sociologist who took great pride in following the path of civil rights pioneers such as Dr. W.E.B. DuBois, the founder of the NAACP. Like DuBois, Johnson spent quality academic time at Fisk University in Nashville, DuBois' alma mater.
Some will recount the courageous stories behind Johnson's many years leading the Detroit NAACP with his best friend, U.S. Federal Judge Damon Keith. Together, they boosted the membership of the Detroit Chapter 10-fold in one decade! Through non-violence, sit-ins, and detailed organizing, they knocked down one barrier after another.
And then, there will be blacks, whites, and browns, who will tell you about how Johnson walked softly but effectively through the halls of higher education institutions and corporate boardrooms without ever forgetting his humble roots and who he represented.
Dr. Arthur L. Johnson will be long remembered not for what he said but for what he did to make America live up to its true ideals. As the Detroit Morehouse Alumni Association recently said, "Dr. Johnson carried the light of Morehouse honorably and never relented in his obligation to defend freedom…." We will miss his leadership!