Arthur Johnson was born in Americus, Georgia on November
5, 1925 to Clara Stewart and Arthur Allen. After graduation
from Parker High School in Birmingham, Alabama, financial
support from his grandmother and a work-study plan allowed
Dr. Johnson the opportunity to attend Morehouse College,
where he received a degree in sociology and political
science in 1948. He earned a master's degree in sociology
from Atlanta University and was a research fellow in sociology
at Fisk University in 1949 and 1950, respectively.
While at Fisk University, Dr. Johnson was approached by Groster B. Current,
National Director of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
(NAACP), with an offer of the position as Executive Secretary of the Detroit Branch of the
NAACP. Intending to stay only three years, Dr. Johnson set out for Detroit in 1950 and did
not leave the NAACP until 1964. During his tenure, Dr. Johnson was responsible for
facilitating the desegregation of major civil institutions, including schools, businesses,
and hospitals. Among his achievements during this period were his efforts to desegregate
Detroit majority hospitals and being one of the major forces in establishing the NAACP
Freedom Fund Dinner in 1956.
Following his work with the NAACP, Dr. Johnson served as Deputy Director of the
Michigan Civil Rights Commission, Deputy Superintendent of the Detroit Public School
System, as a faculty member at Wayne State University and the University of Detroit, and
in numerous high level administrative positions at Wayne State University.
Dr. Johnson has received numerous honors and community awards, including two
honorary doctorate degrees from Morehouse College and the University of Detroit Mercy,
respectively. He retired from Wayne State University in 1995.
6 June 1997
following excerpt is selected with regard to Institutional
Racism/Discrimination in health care in Detroit:
"The major hospitals
in Detroit in 1950 operated with patterns of racial segregation in placement of patients.
They didn't want a black and a white person in a semi-private room, and they consistently
worked to avoid that. I mean this was it. This [was] commonplace. And everybody...black
people could sense this, and black doctors who had graduated from medical school here and
elsewhere, working on the assumption that they would become doctors, soon discovered that
they were to be "black doctors" in the sense that they would not be treated
equally, fairly, with white doctors in the privileges they were [granted] in these
hospitals in Detroit. The major hospitals in many cases did not even respond to [the]
letters [from black doctors] requesting appointment. And it was because of these racial
segregation conditions in health care that we began to think about ways of how we could
break that pattern, and it finally came with the legislation passed by Congress that
sought to bar discrimination based on race."