Johnson, Nelson, 1943-


"Rev. Nelson Napoleon Johnson was born on April 25, 1943, in Airlie, North Carolina, and was raised on a family farm in the nearby town of Littleton. In 1961, he graduated from an all-black high school in Littleton and enlisted in the United States Air Force. He spent significant time at Westover Field, Massachusetts, and on a Canadian base in Baden, Germany, before being discharged from the Air Force in 1965. Following his discharge, Johnson enrolled at North Carolina A&T State University and moved to Greensboro, North Carolina. During this time, Johnson became active in civil rights efforts in the city. He participated in YES (Youth Educational Services) and helped to found its successor organization, GAPP (Greensboro Association for Poor People). He was also present at the 1969 riots at Dudley High School and North Carolina A&T State University. Johnson later became a Marxist and in 1974 was involved in the formation of the Revolutionary Workers League (RWL). In 1976, he left the RWL and joined the Workers Viewpoint Organization (WVO) which changed its name in 1979 to the Communist Workers Party (CWP). That year Johnson was involved in planning a CWP-sponsored anti-Klan march in China Grove and the infamous November 3, 1979 march in Greensboro at which five party members were attacked and killed. Following the completion of his undergraduate degree at A&T in 1986, Johnson enrolled in the Virginia Union School of Theology in Richmond. He earned the master's degree three years later and returned to Greensboro to serve as an assistant pastor. In 1991, he became the pastor of the Faith Community Church. Johnson remained active in many charitable and civic causes. He lead efforts to establish the Greensboro Truth and Reconciliation Commission, tasked with investigating the events of November 3, 1979. In 1991, he helped found the Beloved Community Center, and also served as its director. Johnson was a member the Greensboro Pulpit Forum and Mayor's Community Initiative, in addition to serving as vice president of the National Interfaith Committee for Worker Justice and as chairman of the board for the Greensboro Justice Fund." --From Greensboro VOICES Biography, "Johnson, Nelson" accessed 9 October 2008,

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