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John Johnson Advance February 2012
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Civil Rights Leader to Speak on Feb. 22

Posted on Wednesday, February 15, 2012 [7:12 AM]

John Johnson February 2012
Kentucky Commission on Human Rights Executive Director John J.Johnson -- pictured
in front of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington, D.C. -- will speak on Feb. 22.

COLUMBIA, Ky. -- Area residents will get an opportunity to hear from one of Kentucky's Civil Rights veterans on Feb. 22.

Kentucky Commission on Human Rights Executive Director John J. Johnson will speak at 6 p.m. CT on Wednesday, Feb. 22, in the Norma & Glen Hodge Center for Discipleship, 402 Helen Flatt Drive. His talk -- which is free and open to the public -- is co-sponsored by the LWC Student Activities Board and Bonner Scholars.

Johnson will speak about the commission, its founding and its work. He'll also discuss his distinguished career in civil rights that spans more than 45 years on the international, national and state levels.

Johnson, 67, has been active in the human rights movement since he was 18. He was one of the youngest presidents of a chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People when he was tapped for the position at 19.

"Civil rights has always been a concern to me," said Johnson, a native of nearby Franklin, Ky. "In my little hometown, I was involved in the NAACP. The local leader was my pastor and he offered his position after he had moved to Lexington. I took the job and helped schools push for integration, for black teachers to be employed."

Johnson also pushed for integration of city pools, and he led the fight against an effort to name Lawrence A. Rainey the head of Franklin's police department. Rainey was the sheriff of Neshoba County, Miss., where he gained notoriety for his alleged involvement with the deaths and cover-ups of three civil rights workers. An alleged member of the Ku Klux Klan, Rainey was depicted in the 1988 film Mississippi Burning.

"Thatʼs what got me involved on a national level," Johnson said.

Johnson's distinguished career has afforded him "some pretty unique experiences."

He monitored elections in South Africa; helped oversee funeral arrangements for civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks; and helped launch a much-praised NAACP voter-registration drive.

"Iʼve been blessed by being able to help the overall movement in so many ways," he said.

Since 2007, Johnson has led the groundbreaking Kentucky Commission on Human Rights,which has its main offices in Louisville, Ky.

"For those who donʼt know, the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights is an agency formed by state government," Johnson said. "Kentucky was the first state in the South to create such an agency. The Commission has the authority to investigate complaints and issue rulings with the authority of a court of law.

"It is against the law in the state of Kentucky to discriminate in the areas of employment, public accommodations, housing and financial transactions, based on race, color, age, gender, nationality, disability, and religion, and in the area of housing, also familial status. We enforce those laws."

John J. Johnson will speak at 6 p.m. CT on Wednesday, Feb. 22, at the Lindsey Wilson College Norma & Glen Hodge Center for Discipleship, 402 Helen Flatt Drive. For more information, contact LWC Student Activities at info@lindsey.edu or (270) 384-8033.

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