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From The Kentucky Encyclopedia -
Lyman Tefft Johnson, civil rights leader and educator, was born on June 12, 1906, in Columbia, Tennessee, the eighth of nine children of Robert Graves and Mary (Dew) Johnson. All four of Johnson's grandparents had been slaves in Tennessee. His paternal grandfather, a carpenter, had saved enough money from extra work to buy freedom for himself and his wife.
After completing eleven grades at the local black school where his father was principal, Johnson received his high school diploma in 1926 from the preparatory division of Knoxville College. In 1930 he earned his bachelor's degree in Greek from Virginia Union University in Richmond and in 1931 was awarded a master's degree in history by the University of Michigan. Johnson began his forty-year teaching career in 1933 at Louisville's Central High School, where he spent thirty-three years as an instructor in history, economics, and mathematics. His last seven years as an educator were spent as an assistant principal at Parkland Junior High, Manley Junior High, and Flaget High School -- all in Louisville.
While still a young man, Johnson began to fight segregation. During his tenure as president of the Louisville Association of Teachers in Colored Schools between 1939 and 1941, Johnson campaigned successfully for an end to inequalities in salaries paid to black and white teachers in the local schools. In 1949 he was plaintiff in the lawsuit that opened the University of Kentucky to black students. From 1978 to 1982 he served as a member of the Jefferson County Board of Education. From the beginning of his career, Johnson preached the gospel of education to his black students.
Johnson has been active in a number of professional and civil rights organizations, including the Kentucky Civil Liberties Union, the Urban League, and the Louisville chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, which he headed for six years. In recognition of his many years of leadership in civil rights and education, he has received numerous plaudits and awards. In 1979 he was awarded an honorary doctor of letters degree by the University of Kentucky . In 1980 the Lyman T. Johnson Middle School was named in his honor by the Jefferson County Board of Education.
In 1936 Johnson married Juanita Morrell, who died in 1977. They were parents of a daughter, Yvonne, and a son, Lyman Morrell.
WADE HALL, Entry Author
Selected Sources from UK Libraries:
Hall, Wade. The Rest of the Dream The Black Odyssey of Lyman Johnson. Lexington: UP of Kentucky, 2015. Print.E185.97.J693 H35 1988, Young Library - 4th Floor
Haller, Laura K., Serena M. Williams, Barbara. Owens, Donald L. Burnett, Denise G. Clayton, Louis D. Brandeis School of Law, and National Bar Association. A Legacy of Leadership African American Pioneers in Kentucky Law. Louisville, Ky.]: U of Louisville School of Law, 2009.AV-D7715, Young Media Library