Honoring Linda Howard Johnsonby Representative Bennie G. Thompson
Posted on 2013-12-12
in the house of representatives
Thursday, December 12, 2013
Mr. THOMPSON of Mississippi. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to tell the
story of an unsung hero. Often times the neighbor next door goes
unnoticed because of their ability to quietly go about life helping
others without any nudge from the outside to do so, the only nudge they
get is the one that is in their heart to do what needs to be done. Mr.
Speaker her name is Linda Howard Johnson and she lives in my district,
Mississippi Second Congressional District. People in the community calf
her ``Mama or Grandma.''
Linda's start in life helped to shape the road she would travel later
in life. As a young child, she was given away to be raised by a woman
not related to her, Ms. Clara Tanzy. As a child she was constantly
changing elementary schools and places to live. Her mother wanted
change and a better life for them, so she chose Tutwiler, MS. Tutwiler
was the answer they needed to end their roller coaster ride. Linda said
it was the first time they were able to call an apartment home, just
for the two of them. The stability gave her the grounding she needed to
focus on school, being a child, being a little girl, making friends,
and all those things important to a child.
Linda went on to attend Coahoma Junior College in 1978 and 1979, where she played basketball. The team won the regional level basketball competition among three states, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Arkansas and advanced to compete at the national level in Kansas City in 1979. In fact, she credits basketball for having taught her the importance of working together to achieve a common goal. As a mother, Linda instilled that same value in her children, Claretta, Lazerick, and Ramona and her grandchildren, Tashayla, Raileigh, Savannah, Diamond, and Courtney. All three of her children went to college and are successful in their careers. Linda's children are constantly trying to encourage their mother to move away but she reminds them, ``Tutwiler grounded me and contributed to who I am, so this is my home and extended family, so I'm here to stay and help someone else.'' I'm pleased that Linda has decided to stay in Tutwiler and help someone in need.
Linda is constantly giving back in many ways. She is a teacher's assistant in the local school district and a bus driver for the district as well. In addition, Linda serves as a basketball coach for both the West Tallahatchie School District and the Tutwiler Community Education Center. She say's what she does is not much but it is what she loves, ``helping family,'' because Tutwiler is her family.
Linda has helped raise eight children. She comes to their aide because she recognizes those same issues that occurred in her life rising in theirs. So, she steps in to try and curtail those circumstances or prevent them from occurring in their lives. Linda recalls the story of child who came from a family that hadn't had a female to graduate from high school in twenty years, well Linda got involved in the child's life from birth and nurtured her through high school until she graduated, thus breaking the chain. She invited a 17 year old young man struggling to get out of the 8th grade, who had no one to guide him, so she invited him to come live with her only if he promised to finish school. The young man got his GED and that was better than nothing. In fact, there have been situations in which Linda has taken in entire families consisting of the husband, wife, and children. She says her house is not the Hilton but it's a home and she's willing to share it with those in need at no charge.
Linda says ``I don't know, to me it seems like I need my community and my community needs me and that's why I tell my children I can't move away, I'm at home and a mother's place is at home.'' Mr. Speaker, I ask my colleagues to join me in recognizing an unsung hero of the Tutwiler Community for stepping up to the plate and influencing many lives, Ms. Linda Howard Johnson.