Civil Rights Activist Johnson Remembered ‘For Trying to Bring Freedom

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(Courtesy of The Detroit News)

Detroit — Mourners are paying their respects Friday to longtime civil rights activist Arthur Johnson, who died Tuesday at 85 after a battle with Parkinson’s disease.

Visitation is until 9 p.m. Friday at Swanson Funeral Home on West McNichols.

Among those paying their respects were Stuart Rankin, who worked with Johnson when they were both assistant superintendents for Detroit Public Schools in the 1960s.

“All the things Arthur did was for others,” he said. “He was mainly trying to bring freedom and justice to all people.”

Beverly Schneider, an academic adviser at Wayne State University, where Johnson served in numerous positions since the 1960s, said he taught about the value of all human beings. She said people will never forget the contributions he made.

“He taught us how to live together,” said Schneider, her voice choked with emotion. “There will never be another Dr. Johnson.”

In addition to his role as a civil rights activist and educator, Johnson was the former leader of the Detroit branch of the NAACP. After his retirement from Wayne State University as the senior vice president for university relations, he was involved in various boards, including the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and the Detroit Institute of Arts.

“I’ve never met a more gracious gentleman than Arthur,” said Eva Meharry, a board member of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra Volunteer Council. She said she’s known Johnson and his wife, Chacona, for more than 15 years.

“(He was) soft-spoken, gracious. He always, always recognized you, hugged you; very warm” she said. “Even in the latter years when his health was failing, that warmth and graciousness shone through.”

Funeral services for Johnson will be at 11 a.m. Saturday at Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church, 2080 W. Grand Blvd.

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