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Free Citizen

This writer espouses individual liberty, free markets, and limited government.

Name:
Location: Jackson, Mississippi, United States

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

John D. Johnson, R. I. P.

[The Clarion-Ledger ran this letter on October 5, 2002. Similar versions ran in The Natchez Democrat and the Oxford Eagle at about the same time.]

I noted with shock and sadness ("Johnson, 55, former 'C-L' editor, dies," September 15) the passing of my old friend John Johnson, Ole Miss journalism professor and former executive editor of The Clarion-Ledger.

I knew him "when."

At Natchez-Adams High School in 1964, Johnny and I paid a price for our love of baseball. We were library assistants, and all World Series games were then played in the afternoon. He had brought a small transistor radio, so we repaired to the back of the library to listen to the game. (He rooted for the Cardinals and I for the Yankees.)

The next day, the librarian, who clearly was not a baseball fan, informed us that we were being transferred to the physical education class.

Years later, I was not surprised to learn that Johnny's baseball card collection numbered in the thousands.

His father, prominent Natchez attorney Forrest Johnson, founded a weekly newspaper, the Miss-Lou Observer. It was here that Johnny gained his first real journalistic experience; I had the privilege of writing a little column for this paper.

His father was unpopular with many whites because he had a large black clientele. Mr. Johnson represented all his clients vigorously-- whether they were able to pay him or not.

Johnny and his father had a vision of equal opportunity for all Mississippians long before most of the rest of us did.

A gentle soul who seldom spoke up in class, Johnny had a history teacher who hated President Kennedy. One day Larry Abrams, sitting in the front of the class, criticized Gov. Ross Barnett; the teacher [Flossie Klotz] told Larry that if he didn't like the state government, maybe he should get out of Mississippi.

From the back of the room came Johnny's voice: "If you don't like the national government, maybe you should get out of the country!"

Johnny, you left us much too soon.

2 Comments:

Blogger Michael Morrison said...

Good story!
Question authority, even if said authority is a teacher.
And equal opportunity is still an ideal to be pursued, and it is best acquired in a free country.
Thank you for publishing this obituary.

Mon Jun 27, 11:00:00 AM CDT  
Anonymous Carol Shuman said...

You were right about Johnny, and a lot, lot more.
Carol

Fri Oct 28, 02:03:00 PM CDT  

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