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Color & Conflict

Color & Conflict: Bishop Joseph A. Johnson and Vanderbilt University

Bishop Joseph Andrew Johnson Jr. was born in Shreveport, Louisiana in 1914. Sure of his call to ministry, Johnson declined a scholarship to Howard University to study law. He instead enrolled at Texas College, laboring in Depression-era work programs for pocket money. After Texas, he found himself at the Iliff School of Theology in Denver, Colorado, and then at Vanderbilt University, where he became the University’s first Black graduate in 1954. By then in his 40s, Johnson would also earn a PhD in New Testament, and become a faculty member, dean, and highly requested speaker. Johnson served on the Vanderbilt Board of Trustees from 1971 to 1979. He died in his hometown on September 26, 1979.

Visit the exhibit in person on the 1st floor of the Divinity School at 411 21st Ave S, Nashville, TN 37240, or online.

Dayo Johnson. [Painting of Bishop Joseph A. Johnson]
Oil painting. Tile frame by community members. 2014
Bishop Johnson Black Cultural Center
The Soul of the Black Preacher
Bishop Joseph A. Johnson
Philadelphia: Pilgrim Press, 1971
Vanderbilt University Special Collections