Honoring Mr. Robert Johnson, Civil Rights Activist from Grenada, Msby Representative Bennie G. Thompson
Posted on 2016-01-07
in the house of representatives
Thursday, January 7, 2016
Mr. THOMPSON of Mississippi. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to honor the
late Mr. Robert Johnson of Grenada, MS, a beloved civil rights activist
and renowned public servant. He has been remembered by many as a
fighter for justice, freedom and equality for all and a pillar of his
Johnson was born to the late Finley and Catherine Johnson on June 17, 1948, in Grenada, MS. The sixth of seven children, Robert learned the value of hard work and sacrifice. He attended Grenada High School where he played football and attended Alcorn State University on a full athletic scholarship.
In 1966, the Meredith March against fear would change the path in which Robert Johnson would take his life. Robert came back to Grenada to join the Civil Rights Movement and worked to establish and protect voting rights in Mississippi. He was the local youth leader of the Grenada County Freedom Movement. Through his work with the Grenada County Freedom Movement, he helped make the nation aware of the threats, intimidation, and lawlessness being inflicted upon Black people in the town.
He joined the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) as a Field Project Director and worked with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Dr. Ralph David Abernathy to continue SCLC programs in Grenada. His work with SCLC led him on organizing efforts across the country and even in Africa.
In 1971, he was jailed for refusing to be drafted into the military and was sentenced to five years but was released on a full pardon in 1972 by President Gerald Ford after serving eighteen months of the sentence.
Johnson continued his activism with the SCLC which led him to Covington, GA, where he met his wife Mary. They were married in November of 1974 and were later blessed with two sons, Cleon and Marcus.
Robert began working for the Metro Atlanta Transit Authority as a bus operator and in 1985 began attending Mt. Ephraim Baptist Church. He and his family joined Mt. Ephraim soon after. Robert Johnson served as a trustee on the Official Board for a number of years. In 2002, he was ordained as a deacon. Around this time, Robert was honored along with Rev. Dr. Joseph Lowery, and other grassroots workers of the Civil Rights Movement with a trip to Durban, South Africa where they met South African activist and president, Nelson Mandela.
Mr. Speaker, I ask my colleagues to join me in recognizing a special individual, Mr. Robert Johnson--a devoted servant of his community, a fighter for justice and equality for all people, a founder of the Grenada County Freedom Movement, and consummate family man. He will be missed by all those who know and love him.