Johnnie Johnson and other sanitation and Water, Gas & Light Commission workers filed suit against the city of Albany in 1972 for discriminatory employment practices. His son, Yaz Johnson, is asking city leaders to name a downtown structure in Johnson’s honor.
ALBANY — The Albany City Commission has voted to name its public works building after Johnnie Johnson.
The move ends an ten-year process to honor the late civil right leader. The effort to recognize Johnson was led by his son.
Ward III Commissioner Christopher Pike said that Ward VI Commissioner Tommie Postell and Johnson's son Yaz Johnson had come to an agreement to name the public works building after the late Johnson.
Johnnie Johnson, a former city public works employee, led about 260 black sanitation and utility workers to strike in the spring of 1972 and then, along with five others, sued for equitable rights and pay in local government in what would become a landmark civil rights case in Georgia.
Yaz Johnson has been working for the last decade to get his father's name placarded on a notable government building. But each time a building has become available, city and county government officials were unwilling or unable to budge on the issue until recently, when city officials took inventory of available buildings and presented them to Yaz Johnson.
The public works building is the last in a series of buildings, parks or streets that were offered up.
Yaz Johnson initially wanted the annex next to the government center, and then the law enforcement center named after his father. When rebuffed, Johnson suggested the new Broad Avenue bridge. City officials countered with the government center plaza itself, to which Johnson refused.
City staff then determined that there were three feasible pieces of property that could be named: the Southwest Georgia Regional Airport, the Albany Municipal Auditorium and the public works building.
Under city rules, to rename a building, the commissioner who represents the ward of the building in question must bring forward the move to change the name, something Ward II Commissioner Ivey Hines did Tuesday.
While the vote is non-binding, it will likely be ratified at the city's night meeting later this month.