Johnson, John Jay, 1945-


At age 17, John Johnson of Franklin became the youngest president of any Kentucky chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, having already been involved in the NAACP Youth Council and in student government. Under his leadership, the Franklin chapter succeeded in preventing the town from hiring the former chief of police of Philadelphia, Mississippi, where three young civil rights workers had been murdered. After high school, Johnson began working in a factory in his small rural community, but he soon found his way into organizations with a mission to improve social conditions, including the Kentucky Institute on Human Development and various War on Poverty programs. After a period as assistant director of the Louisville Human Rights Commission, Johnson became director of community services for the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights. As state president of the NAACP for 14 years, he traveled around Kentucky organizing chapters and advocating for women's rights and welfare reform. He also chaired the planning committee for a national NAACP convention held in Louisville. Johnson served as director of the Louisville and Jefferson County Community Action Agency in 1984 before moving to Baltimore to join the national staff of the NAACP. John Johnson Street in his hometown of Franklin is named for him.

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