Navigation Menu+

Color & Conflict

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

Color portrait of Bishop Johnson by Dayo Johnson and community members

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.