Johnson Speaks on Black History Month at CU Chapel

By Hillary C. Wright, student news writer

CAMPBELLSVILLE, Ky.—“Remember those who sat down so we might stand up.” That was the message John Johnson delivered to a crowd at Campbellsville University’s recent chapel celebrating African American History Month.

Johnson is executive director of the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights. Johnson spoke on the importance of celebrating black history.

Johnson praised Campbellsville University on the work that she is doing with diversity. He called the university “great” in her diversity efforts.

“Since 1906, Campbellsville University has not only been a distinguished educational institution in Southern Kentucky, but today it continues as one of our nation’s leading institutions of higher learning in promoting diversity and inclusion,” Johnson said.

“I’m so proud of all you people here today and the work that this great university has done.”

“We must celebrate those who underwent extreme circumstances,” Johnson said.  He spoke of several situations African-Americans endured including “housing discrimination, health disparities, physical and mental humiliation, and racial profiling.”

He said African-American History Month is a time to recall the “stony road” African-Americans have trod, to assess the current situation and to “plot our course for the future.”

He said the celebration is a time to “assess the conditions that we are now confronted with as a result of – the enslavement of our foreparents and the bondage that followed under the brutal hand of racism – a hand that stretches forth even today.”

Johnson spoke of the progress the country has made, including the recent election of the first African-American president, Barack Obama, and also cited statistics emphasizing the need to keep progressing.

“If Abe Lincoln were here, he would be amazed and excited to find that, at long last, Americans of all races and walks of life had finally listened to the better angels of their nature, and had come together as one indivisible nation and elected our first African-American president,” Johnson said.

“Much has changed, but much remains the same,” Johnson said. “The 2008 election was a great turning point. While we have cause to celebrate, the struggle continues. Barack Obama may have been to the mountaintop, but we as a people have a ways to go.”

“We have a chance to rebuild America. Continue to fight the good fight. Now is the time to make real the promise of tomorrow. Now is the time to make justice a reality,” he said.

He said that the fight needs to continue against race crime, racial profiling, voter suppression, health disparities, sentencing discrepancies and red lining and housing discrimination.

During the session, Margaret Stewart of Campbellsville received the Frances Clinkscales Humanitarian Award. Clinkscales was a former board member of Greater Campbellsville United and a Campbellsville City Council member.

Stewart is a local historian and participates in several organizations.

Chapel is held every Wednesday in Ransdell Chapel. The public is invited to attend.

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.

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