The Amistad Research Center is saddened to announce the death of Dr. Clifton Herman Johnson, founder and director emeritus of the Amistad Research Center. Dr. Johnson passed away on May 21 at his home in Eugene, Oregon. He is survived by his wife, Rosemary Johnson; two sons, Charles and Robert Johnson; a daughter, Virginia Johnson; a sister, Mary Alice Smith; and four grandchildren.
Dr. Johnson was born in Griffin, Georgia, on September 13, 1921. From 1940 to 1945 he served in the U.S. Army, during which time he attended the University of Connecticut's Army Specialized Training program. Dr. Johnson furthered his education by earning his BA from the University of North Carolina in 1948, his MA from the University of Chicago in 1949, and his Ph.D. in American History from the University of North Carolina in 1959.
Between 1950 and 1966, Dr. Johnson served as instructor and Professor of History at LeMoyne College, Assistant Professor of History at East Carolina College, Archivist at Fisk University, and Director of the Race Relations Department of the United Church Board for Homeland Ministries. In 1966 he became the founding director of the Amistad Research Center as a division of the UCBHM Race Relations Department. The Center, originally located at Fisk University, moved to New Orleans in 1970. Dr. Johnson was also a guest professor at the University of Tennessee, Dillard University, and the University of New Orleans. He edited two books and published numerous articles on abolitionism, African American history and archives administration.
Dr. Johnson served on the boards of the United Nations Association of Memphis, the Tennessee Council of Human Relations, the Middle Tennessee Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Committee Against Discrimination in Housing, the Friends of Archives of Louisiana, and the Urban League of Greater New Orleans. He was the recipient of numerous awards, honors and fellowships for his work in the fields of education and history, community relations, and race relations.
A private burial was held in Willamette National Cemetery near Portland, Oregon. A celebration of life will be held July 11 at First Congregational Church in Eugene, Oregon. The Amistad Research Center will sponsor a New Orleans memorial to Dr. Johnson and exhibition highlighting his life and career. More information on this event will be available as details are finalized.