Orange Alert

Dr John L Johnson Archive Video Excerpt

Posted on: April 16, 2015

You can now view a clip of the John L. Johnson archive video at

Dr. John L Johnson was the first director of the African American Studies program, which was organized as both an academic subject and a tool for social change. His administrative roles were ultimately the intersection of his personal and professional passions.

From his biography at SU Archives:

While his work and contributions to the field of special education were significant in a practical way, Johnson’s diverse roles benefitted the University as a whole in much broader ways. He was a skilled professor, but the administrative positions he filled reflected his personal interests as well. Johnson was a vocal presence in the department and the community with regards to civil rights, social inequalities, and institutional racism. When nine African American football players were reprimanded for boycotting practice in 1970, citing racial discrimination, Johnson served on the committee investigating the incident. He coordinated the Croton-on-Campus program, which brought local school children from inner city schools to classrooms on campus to provide learning opportunities they would otherwise not have. Johnson was appointed Assistant Provost for Minority Group Affairs in 1969, a position that allowed him to help develop the University’s policies on issues relating to minority groups.

Johnson resigned from Syracuse University in 1971 to become the associate superintendent of schools for specialized education in Washington, D.C. Throughout the rest of his life, Dr. John L. Johnson continued to balance his role as an educator and an activist and remained committed to finding solutions to problems of inequality.

Read more about Dr. Johnson or view his papers at SU Archives