By Hillary C. Wright, student news writer
CAMPBELLSVILLE, Ky. — Campbellsville University will host John Johnson, executive director of the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights, as the speaker for CU’s chapel Wednesday, Feb. 11, at 10 a.m. in Ransdell Chapel.
The public is invited to attend this address that celebrates “African-American History Month.”
Johnson’s agency, located in Louisville, receives, initiates, investigates, conciliates and rules upon jurisdictional complaints alleging violations of the Kentucky Civil Rights Act.
The Kentucky Commission on Human Rights is mandated by Kentucky Revised Statute 344 to educate members of the public about their rights under the law to live free from discrimination in Kentucky.
The agency conducts a comprehensive program of education, training, outreach, partnerships and public awareness initiatives to carry out this task.
Johnson’s lifetime of leadership started at an early age when he became the youngest president of a Kentucky chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). ?His career as an organizer began shortly after high school when he held several positions with the 1960s War on Poverty programs.
In the 1970s, he assumed the position as associate director of the Louisville and Jefferson County Human Relations Commission. He was later appointed director of community services for the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights; and in 1984, he became the director of the Louisville and Jefferson County Community Action Agency until he joined the staff of the national NAACP in Baltimore, Md.
At the NAACP, Johnson served as chief programs officer where he directed several national programs. In 1992, he led an NAACP delegation to East Germany where they conducted hearings on alleged discrimination against African-American military personnel. In 1999, Johnson returned to West Germany, visiting United States military installations to address service personnel as a part of the late Martin Luther King Jr.’s 70th birthday celebration.
Johnson visited East Africa to help promote global democracy; and in 2002, during Zimbabwe’s Presidential Election, Johnson’s NAACP delegation was the only American organization invited to work as independent observers.
Johnson’s role at the national office expanded, and he became the NAACP’s chief executive of operations, overseeing the executive office operations for the president and CEO.
His volunteer work faced many challenges, from integrating the segregated swimming pool in his hometown of Franklin, to challenging issues such as divestment of Kentucky’s interest in South Africa. He served as Kentucky state president of the NAACP for 14 years, increasing Kentucky NAACP branches from four to 42.
He served as an elected member of the NAACP’s national Board of Directors including one of its vice presidents. Johnson served as chair of the Kentucky Coalition of Conscience, member of the Urban League, Kentucky chapter of the National Association of Human Rights Workers and Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
He moderated a weekly radio program and wrote columns for a local weekly paper. Johnson’s work in civil and human rights led to a street named after him, John J. Johnson Avenue, in his hometown in 1993.
Johnson earned a bachelor of art degree in community development from Sojourner Douglas College in Baltimore. He has received numerous awards and honors, including an honorary doctorate degree from Simmons College of Kentucky for civil rights and community development.
He served on the National Board of Directors for the A. Philip Randolph Institute, the Board of Directors of the National Committee on Pay Equity and the National Board of Directors of the Association for Quality Education and the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation.
He is chair of the advisory board of the National Great Blacks In Wax Museum Inc. In September 2007, Johnson was appointed by the Board of Commissioners of the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights in an unanimous decision to serve as its executive director.
He and his wife, Courtrina, live in Louisville.
Chapel is designed to provide opportunities for corporate worship and exposure through of a variety of informative speakers and presentations.
All chapels are open to the public free of charge.
Campbellsville University is a private, comprehensive institution located in South Central Kentucky. Founded in 1906, Campbellsville University is affiliated with the Kentucky Baptist Convention and has an enrollment of 2,601 students who represent 93 Kentucky counties, 27 states and 31 foreign nations. Listed in U.S.News & World Report’s 2009 “America’s Best Colleges,” CU is ranked 22nd in “Best Baccalaureate Colleges” in the South for the second consecutive year. CU has been ranked 16 consecutive years with U.S.News & World Report. The university has also been named to America’s Best Christian Colleges®. Campbellsville University is located 82 miles southwest of Lexington, Ky., and 80 miles southeast of Louisville, Ky. Dr. Michael V. Carter is in his tenth year as president.