U of M’s Humphrey School honors longtime civil rights leader Josie Johnson

Josie Johnson luncheon
Front row, left to right: Carissa Slotterback, Laysha Ward, Josie Thomas, Norma Williams, Josie Robinson Johnson, Heather M. Johnson, Norrene Duffy. Middle row, left to right: D’Angelos Svenkeson, Denetrick Powers, Arleta Little, Richard Copeland, Vernon Jordan, Tracey Williams-Dillard, Kim Nelson, Lea Hargett, Lisa Crawford, Laura Bloomberg. Back row, left to right: James A. Johnson, Rev. Alfred Babington-Johnson, Taylor Cooper, Pat Cruikshank, Alvin Abraham Courtesy of Humphrey School of Public Affairs

For decades, Josie Johnson has been one of Minnesota’s foremost leaders in civil rights activism. Now a new fellowship at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs has been named in her honor.

Some 200 attendees gathered at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs Monday evening, October 15, to hear of plans to create the Josie Robinson Johnson Fellowship and rename a community meeting room after her.

The $2M fellowship fund will support graduate students at the school who have specific interests in addressing racial inequities and injustice.

“I’d like us collectively to make certain that generations of students, faculty, and community partners continue to know of Josie’s work and be inspired by her formidable leadership,” said Humphrey School Dean Laura Bloomberg.

The school also unveiled a portrait of the honoree during the dedication of the newly renamed Josie Robinson Johnson Community Room.

Josie Johnson
Josie Johnson at portrait unveiling Courtesy of Humphrey School of Public Affairs

Civil rights leader Vernon Jordan, a close friend of Johnson’s, said the fellowship is a fitting tribute to her lifetime pursuit of equity and justice, and to “the historical impact she has made at the University of Minnesota.”

“While many things happening in our country are not normal, they also are not new,” said Jordan. “And because we have been here before, we know what we need — more Josie Johnsons. This fellowship will give the next generation of Josie Johnsons the tools they need to keep fighting for the justice we all seek, and bring us closer to the world Josie has always been pushing us toward.”


Information provided by the Humphrey School of Public Affairs