Tribute to Rev. Johnny Scottby Senator Richard J. Durbin
Posted on 2013-01-24
DURBIN. Mr. President, Reverend Johnny Scott has announced his
retirement after 31 years as president of the NAACP East St. Louis
Chapter. As a faith leader, businessman, civil rights activist, husband
and father, Rev. Scott has dedicated his life to justice and equality.
He is a man who cares about making sure things are done right. East St.
Louis--my hometown--is a better place for Reverend Scott's years of
A native of Indianola, MS, Johnny Scott went to Mildred Louise Business [[Page S275]] College in East St. Louis and later LaSalle University in Chicago. He completed his theological studies at the Midwest Theological Seminary.
Rev. Scott was working as bookkeeper by trade, when he was approached about serving as president of the East St. Louis Chapter of the NAACP in 1982. He accepted, but didn't expect to be in the role for more than a year. At the time, he believed that it ``was not his type of work.'' It turned out to be exactly his type of work. He kept his office doors open 8 hours a day, 6 days a week for the following 32 years.
While he was with the NAACP, Reverend Scott led the effort to create opportunity for and prevent indignities against people of color. He made sure there was scholarship support for thousands of students over the years he served. He played a key role in the U.S. Department of Justice's settlement with the City of Belleville over racial bias in hiring. He helped with sensitivity training for local police. He played a part in mediating disputes around racial epithets used in public. And he represented communities of color on issues from cross burnings to State control of local schools. It is no surprise that membership in the NAACP Chapter in East St. Louis grew under his leadership.
On behalf of a grateful community, I thank the Reverend Scott, his wife Gretta Scott and his three children. He stood and gave voice to a community through 30 years of progress and setbacks, celebration and injury. His leadership has touched East St. Louis deeply. It has been an honor to work alongside Reverend Scott, and Loretta and I wish him and his family the best as he opens the next chapter in his life.