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Johnson wants bridge named for his father

Johnny Johnson filed suit in 1972 against the city which opened the door for equitable pay and hiring practices for all races.

The Rev. Johnnie Johnson Jr.’s son, Yaz, requested that the new Broad Avenue bridge, after its renovations are complete, be named after his father.

The Rev. Johnnie Johnson Jr.’s son, Yaz, requested that the new Broad Avenue bridge, after its renovations are complete, be named after his father.

ALBANY — Yaz Johnson asked the Albany City Commission that, when completed, the new Broad Avenue bridge be named after his late father, the Rev. Johnnie Johnson Jr.

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Yaz Johnson

Johnnie Johnson was fired from his public works job with the city in 1972 because of his outspokenness over separate bathrooms, water fountains and unequal pay scales.

In a landmark federal desegregation/discrimination lawsuit, a court ruled in 1976 that Albany must change its racially biased hiring practices.

Johnson told commissioners that he believed naming the bridge after his father was appropriate given the fact that his father’s actions “bridged the gap” between those being discriminated against and the pay and benefits of their white counterparts.

“When I look at the bridge, I see something that spans the community and really, it speaks to what my father stood for. I think it’s an appropriate tribute,” Johnson told the commissioners.

The current bridge was commissioned in the 1930s when it was built to honor World War I veterans. It is set for demolition later this year and will be replaced by a new bridge some time next year.

City staff told commissioners Tuesday that, as they understand it, the state intends to decommission the current bridge before demolition and re-commission the new bridge as a monument to World War I vets when its finished and open to the public.

Whether that would preclude naming the bridge after Johnny Johnson wasn’t immediately known Tuesday.

Ward III Commissioner Christopher Pike offered Yaz Johnson a compromise, saying that city could be amenable to naming the fountain and the plaza in front of the government center after Johnny Johnson.

It wasn’t something that Yaz Johnson was prepared to hear.

“I’ve been patient for nine years and nothing has been birthed from this,” Yaz Johnson said. “What you’re showing me here, is nowhere near substantial enough to honor my father.”

Mayor Pro-Tem and Ward VI Commissioner Roger Marietta, who was presiding over that portion of the meeting, told Johnson that the earliest the city could consider his request would be in January because under city ordinances, the request for the naming of a building or park has to come from the commissioner in whose ward the structure is located.

In the case of the bridge, it spans not only the Flint River but Wards II and III and since Ward II is presently vacant until after the November 8 general election, a move to name the new bridge couldn’t be made until the Ward II seat was filled.

In 2002, Yaz Johnson petitioned the city to name the Central Square Government Complex after his father. At that time, the commission voted 4-3 not to name the complex after the older Johnson, who died in 2000.

In 2006, Johnson again appealed to local government, asking the city commission to name the newly-completed Law Enforcement Center at the intersection of Washington Street and Oglethorpe Boulevard after his father.

The commission authorized then City Manager Alfred Lott to have city staff research the matter and work with Yaz Johnson, to no apparent avail.

Comments

TrixibelleBento 2 years, 6 months ago

Here we go again with more racially divisive rhetoric. Albany will never get out of the 60s.

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KaosinAlbany 2 years, 6 months ago

The Commission should name the bridge after the late Rev. Johnson, Jr. in my opinion.

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shep 2 years, 6 months ago

God Almighty- can't we just call it the" Broad Avenue Bridge" .

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Abytaxpayer 2 years, 6 months ago

Like it or not Johnnie Johnson did help Albany move forward into the modern world. A “New” modern bridge connecting the two sides of Albany named for him would be a nice symbol of the progress most of us have made.

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EBM 2 years, 6 months ago

I agree, I don't see why not! Obviously he was a pillar of this community, probably not from the perspective of which some of you may agree or disagree, but he was.

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Alb5any 2 years, 6 months ago

All he wants is his name to be on something forever.

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flyonthewall 2 years, 6 months ago

The fountain and plaza surrounding the government center is named for Gortatowski since it was constructed with funds he left to the city for construction of parks. Read the cast stones. D'oh!

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richie 2 years, 6 months ago

the bridge has to be commissioned for Veterans first

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Margie 2 years, 6 months ago

The bridge should remain in honor of our World War veterans. I am certain that Mr. Johnson contributed to changes within the City of Albany. But, there are so many others that contributed to change not only for this city, but for the entire country. We all probably could think of someone in our family that helped bring about change, I certainly know of such a person. To our family he was our silent hero. He was a freedom rider, march and demonstrated throughout the United States for equal rights and justice for African Americans. His picture hangs in the Civil Rights Museum. He was the forgotten soldier, that Albany and the so-called local civil rights leaders forgot. He died in 2009 a grass root hero that asked for nothing. Yet he endured being locked up in jails, beat over the head with billy sticks, hosed down with water from fire hydrants, kicked, spat upon, but yet he asked for nothing. Because of him, and others that walked along side of Dr. King, laws changed. Some folks in Albany think that they were the Albany Civil Rights movement, why? Because of unsung heroes like Eddie Brown, Jr. Albany needs to stop with naming anything after people, unless you do it for all who may feel that their love one deserves the honor and recognition. That bridge has significant memories to many of us.

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Jack_Frost 2 years, 6 months ago

Of course, that's the ruling that codified reverse discrimination in the city. After that ruling, if I white person fills a job, the next person must be black...but there's no need to go the other way.
Obviously, that's not Johnson's fault in the least. What he was crusading for was more than fair. Separate but equal was always bogus, and I respect that he stood up for what he believed and deserves to be remembered...but I also think we need to remember the unintended consequences as well.

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waltspecht 2 years, 6 months ago

It's about time we didn't honor anyone by naming roads, bridges or buildings after them. Just call it the Broad Street Bridge and leave it at that. This naming tends to create too many problems within various factions. If you have to name them, name them for what they are, not whom someone wants honored.

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albanyherald1 2 years, 6 months ago

I agree with Margie. If we named prominent locations after everybody that has done something positive in this community, we would run out of locations. That's how many people we are talking about. I did have a little sympathy towards Mr. Johnson, until I realized he has made a request about having something named after his father several other times. Sounds like he just wants to have his name go down in history. He should just be proud of his dad and let it rest.

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flyonthewall 2 years, 6 months ago

Johnson didn't file and win the suit alone. And having a landmark decision carry your name is much greater than a bridge naming, IMO.

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justme 2 years, 6 months ago

With all due respect, Mr. Johnson the fight is over sir, cherish the memory of your dad as many others in the community do.

My family was blessed as my dad's fight was honored with his name being placed on a plaque for a benifit that all working americans enjoy today.

We were just thrilled that he was recognized along with the many others that fought side by side.

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Cartman 2 years, 6 months ago

WWI veterans served in a horrific war. Their sacrifice was selfless, bloody, and fatal to many. They deserve to be remembered for as long as this nation exists. The bridge is already named in their honor. Would we rob them of that memorial and replace them with someone of noteable but of less accomplishment? Would we forget these fighting military men of valor that quickly? Can't something else which has not previously been dedicated be chosen to honor Johnson? Are there no new roads, buildings, fountains, scholarships, schools, or highways which will suffice?

Just my own two cents.

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fcarroll 2 years, 6 months ago

I was raised in Albany, my father worked for the City of Albany, i lived through the Slema Alabama march into the city, so i feel the bridge and Oglethrope should be named after me. I am almost 64 so my age should give me the right, my race sure won't.

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cmckendree 2 years, 6 months ago

MY GOODNESS--ITS THE BROAD AVE. BRIDGE. LETS GET PASS ALL THE RACIAL STUFF.

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Margie 2 years, 6 months ago

All comments noted in this blog are very good indications and reason to STOP the naming of streets, bridges, or anything after a person, UNLESS that individual truly made an notable inpact in the community, and city as a WHOLE. I agree, start a scholarship fund in memory of Mr. Johnson. Or better yet, let it be a part of family history. Mr. Johnson wasn't in that particular fight alone for those laws to change. Of course, I admire the son for trying. But, that bridge should continue to be of honor for our WWI veterans. Sometimes when I am driving around town, I see street names, buidlings, and parks named after people, and I wonder how did it come about?

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MRKIA 2 years, 6 months ago

IT APPEARS THAT YAS JOHNSON IS THE ONLY PERSON PUSHING FOR SOMETHING TO BE NAMED FOR HIS FATHER. DOES HE REALIZE THAT HE IS FREE TO PURCHASE A PROPERTY OF HIS CHOOSING AND ERECT NEARLY ANY MONUMENT HE DEEMS FITTING ON IT ? ANYTHING THE CITY OR COUNTY DOES AT HIS INSISTANCE DIMINISHES THAT HONOR . WHERE ARE THE VOICES OF THE WORKERS WHO BENEFITTED FROM MR. JOHNSONS LAWSUIT?

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pberthoty 2 years, 2 months ago

Mr. Johnson, It is a War Memorial Bridge dedicated to those who served in Dougherty Co. in WWI ,dummy!. On another note, it was dedicated and completed in 1920 not 1930.

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