National Institute on Aging

In Memoriam: Arthur L. Johnson (1925-2011)

Arthur Johnson, author, civil rights activist, and former senior vice president of Wayne State University, died recently from complications associated with Parkinson’s disease. He was 85 years old.

A native of Americus, Georgia, and a graduate of Morehouse College where he was a classmate of Martin Luther King Jr., Johnson moved to Detroit in 1950. There, he became the executive secretary of the Detroit chapter of the NAACP. He held that post for 14 years during the tumultuous years of the civil rights struggle.

Johnson served as deputy director of the Michigan Civil Rights Commission and assistant director of the Detroit public school system. For 23 years, he served in various administrative posts at Wayne State University in Detroit, before retiring in 1995.

His memoir, Race and Remembrance, was published in 2008 by Wayne State University Press.


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  1. Jesse F Goodwin says:

    Dr. Arthur Johnson was an outstanding leader. It was my privilege to serve on the Board of the Detroit Branch of the NAACP when he was Branch President. His leadership played a significant role in diversifying the Board and its program. His memoir is a must reading for those knew him.

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