The Higher Education Credentials of the First Black General in the Arkansas National Guard

Recently, William J. Johnson became the first African-American general in the 203-year history of the Arkansas National Guard. Johnson, a 30-year veteran of the guard, has a two-year associate’s degree from Vincennes University, a bachelor’s degree from Philander Smith College, and a master’s degree from the Army War College.

When Johnson was 7 years old and growing up in Arkansas, the state’s all-white national guard was called in by Governor Orval Faubus to prevent black students from entering Little Rock Central High School. When General Johnson was asked about the guard’s role in the Little Rock crisis, he responded, “We take an oath to support the constitution of the state of Arkansas against all enemies, foreign and domestic. They did that then, we do it now.”