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Johnson deserves suitable memorial

As I sit in North Carolina and check out AlbanyHerald.com, I have to frown on my great city. Regardless of my travels, I'm so proud to tell individuals that I'm from Albany, Ga. However, as I read the article titled "Fighting for his father's legacy" (March 25), I sit in dismay with the majority of reactions to Mr. Johnnie Johnson.

I applaud Yaz for standing up for his father and wanting his memory to continue beyond the mental capacity of those in that time. You see, Mr. Johnnie Johnson was my uncle and I, as well, didn't realize his zeal for making a better life for himself, those who work with him and future generations until my adult years. The very reason may be because my Uncle Johnnie, or Bru to some, never really mentioned his heroic antics. He was a man full of life. He was a man of integrity and courage.

I conclude from my research that throughout the 1960s, blacks who worked for the city still faced separate and unequal working conditions: salaries lower than those of white employees doing the same work, separate restrooms and water fountains in employee facilities, even separate coffee pots. In the spring of 1972, my Uncle Johnnie Johnson led about 260 African-American sanitation workers and employees of the Water, Gas & Light departments on a general strike. The strikers demanded better pay, fair hiring practices and an end to workplace segregation. Shortly thereafter, my Uncle Bru had to leave All-Benny because of numerous death threats to himself and his family. Upon his return, he was compelled to open a barbershop because he could not find employment within the city. I will let you ponder on the reason for that.

To those that state that their mothers or fathers have done great things for the city and the country, I ask that you adhere to one of my favorite quotes from Mahatma Gandhi: "You must be the change you want to see in the world." Use your voice and vigor to have them acknowledged if you believe they are worthy of such. Don't ridicule Yaz because his stance for his dad is unwavering.

I agree that my uncle should have a key foundational structure in All-Benny named after him, not some mere water fountain which would only be a faint representation of appeasement. I say name a building after him, but also teach his significance to the Good Life City. This will allow upcoming generations to take pride in Albany, Ga.

P.S. I'm becoming a little homesick. Can I get two chili/cheese Jimmie's without onions and a Grape Nehi?

DUANE THOMAS

Charlotte, N.C.

Comments

waltspecht 2 years ago

No public building, road or institution should be named after any individual regardless of their individual accomplishment. Sooner or later someone will say they didn't deserve it and these are the reasons why. I can probably find a whole group of people that can tell you why Arthur Williams shouldn't have anything named for him, least of all a public building. Nothing against your Uncle, but this is a game of one upsmanship that is played by the many, resulting in the few getting their way and the majority getting annoyed. I did note that old 82, now 520 is named the Georgia Parkway on the latest Garwin upgrade to my GPS. Used to be shown as the Jefferson Davis Memorial Highway. So why not just call it highway 520? That way no ones feelings are hurt. They used to say in Country that whether you got a medal or not depended upon your PR agent. That's about how it is with naming things. Kerry got a Silver Star for beaching a Swift Boat to retrieve an RPG. Other PBR and Swift Boat Captains got repremanded for doing exactly the same thing. Something about endangering their crew and command. Go figure. So if we honor everyone that people think should be honored, there wouldn't be enough bridges, roads, buildings and towns to accomodate them all..

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agirl_25 2 years ago

Interesting letter, Duane.....but ....... Did you ever know anyone who had a family member who had a bunch of stuff named after him and didn't want anyone to know? Did you ever know anyone who had a family member who was a war hero and was embarrassed about the adulation he received and how the attention used to make a little girl embarrassed when she was growing up and she never wanted anyone to know when she grew in to adulthood who her family was? Did you ever know anyone whose family member's name was in history books alongside those of World War 2 heros, not so much because he thought he was a hero, but because he was with a group of men this country considered heros, but it didn't mean anything to her, or the family member for that fact, for he was just doing his job, as he told her many times. The little girl used to be so shy about all the people who used to pay attention to her just because of the family member. Tell Yaz to get over it...it isn't that big a deal...unless he is an attention hound. That little girl is not so little a girl anymore but an older lady and her secret is still a secret....... and the family member?...well he is long gone.....so his secret keeping days are over. And a promise is a promise. Seriously, I don't understand a person's need to see their name on a street sign or a water tower, etc. When I see our family's name on signs it really does nothing to me. I do NOT feel a sense of pride swell inside. Sorry but that is just me.

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MRKIA 2 years ago

JOHNNIE JOHNSON WAS ONE OF SEVERAL PARTIES NAMED IN THE SUIT FILED SO WHY SHOULD A MEMORIAL BE DEDICATED TO HIM ALONE. YAS AND HIS COUSIN MAKE NO MENTION OF ANYONE ELSE AS IF MR. JOHNSON SINGLEHANDEDLY BROUGHT FORTH, FOUGHT AND WON THIS LAWSUIT. YAS BELIEVES THAT IF NOT FOR HIS FATHER THINGS WOULD NEVER HAVE CHANGED BUT THINGS WOULD HAVE ANYWAY, IF NOT BY MR. JOHNSONS ACTIONS, THEN SOMEONE ELSE. PUT A DISPLAY IN THE ACRI BUILDING AND DEDICATE IT TO ALL INVOLVED. YAS WILL NOT RECOGNIZE ANYONE ELSE.

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Inquisitive1 2 years ago

How many of you know anyone like Yaz's father who had to leave his family and life as he knew it because his actions, words and courage to expose of discriminatory acts by the City of All Benny Sanitation Department caused his life and that of his family to be threatened? Yaz stay the course. No one can tell you how to honor and share the experience of your father. I wonder who may bridges, monuments, buildings and streets are named for folk based upon their deeds, color or affilation. Yes..my question how many men and women of color hold the honor of having a building, street, bridge or street named after them for a act of courage which sparked a movement of folk to take a stand? No Mr. Johnson was not a soilder, he did not sign up to fight in a war, but ended up fighting on AMERICAN SOIL for fair treatment, respect and integrity which was due to all. Get over it? That is an insult to say as you would not tell a person of Jewish decent to forget about the Holocaust!!! Some experiences such as this one was tramatic for Mr. Johnson and his family. Yaz can only speak for his father...others are free to do the same for theirs'. Some mind sets will never change...but it is apparent that the choices made past and present continue to plague All Benny (i.e. Hwy 75 & 16 road project.) .imagine the progression of Albany if the mind set was open to new ideas and embraced the thought of diversity!!!

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