25th MLK Commemorative Unity Walk Friday
By Jim Turner

Posted on January 1, 0001 12:00 AM

The 25th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative Unity Walk will be held very early this Friday, Jan. 14 at 8:15 a.m., beginning at the historic Bank Street AME Church on 564 East Fifth Street in Russellville. The walk will end at the historic old Logan County Courthouse where the program will be held upstairs.
John Johnson, executive director of the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights, will be the guest speaker. The theme is " King's Contribution to Human Rights." Commonwealth Attorney Gail Guiling, Rev. Lee Roy Fishback, new County Attorney Joe Ross, and representatives of county and city school systems and community who have been consistent supporters will participate again this year. A question-and-answer session will also be held.
The public is invited and urged to attend.
For more information, contact Community Projects, Inc, President Charles or Marvinia Benton Neblett at 270-726-6687.
Pictures of past walks shared with The LoJo by the Nebletts are attached, along with a profile of John Johnson.

Profile of John J. Johnson
Executive Director Kentucky Commission on Human Rights

Born in Louisville, Kentucky, in 1945, John J. Johnson was raised in Franklin, Kentucky. He joined the Franklin-Simpson County NAACP and became the youngest president of any Kentucky chapter. He was later elected president of the Kentucky Conference of NAACP Branches and held that position for fourteen years. During his tenure, he increased the number of local units from four to more than forty in Kentucky. In the mid-1980s, he served in many capacities including the Associate Director of the Louisville and Jefferson County Human Relations Commission and as Executive Director of the Louisville/Jefferson County Community Action Agency.
Johnson has been a dedicated activist for civil rights for over 40 years. As a result of his success, in 1993 a street in his hometown of Franklin was named John J. Johnson Avenue in his honor. He has been an avid supporter of the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights since its inception and assisted with its expansion both as a volunteer and as an employee with the title of Director of Community Services. He worked vigorously helping to form many of the local human rights commissions throughout Kentucky.
In 1986, he joined the national staff of the NAACP in Baltimore, Maryland, where he was ultimately appointed as the Chief of Executive Operations until his departure in 2006. Johnson coordinated a wide range of national programs during his years with the NAACP including Armed Services & Veterans Affairs, Economic Development, Financial Empowerment and Initiative, Labor, Rural Development Outreach, Voter Empowerment and Youth Entrepreneurial.
As Chief Programs Officer, he orchestrated the largest ever NAACP nationwide voter empowerment campaign, which resulted in registering over 455,000 new voters, the largest increase in African American voter registration in the nation’s history. Many credit this voter empowerment program with helping to lay the foundation for the election of the first African American president.
He also worked internationally, including organizing a trip to East Germany in 1992 where he led the NAACP delegation to witness hearings on alleged discrimination against African American military workers. I 1999, Johnson returned to Germany at the United States Army's behest to be apart of the ceremony for Martin Luther King, Jr.'s 70th birthday. As part of the Freedom House Citizens Exchange Program, Johnson visited East Africa to help promote global democracy. In 2002, during Zimbabwe's Presidential Election, Johnson's NAACP delegation was the only American organization invited to work as independent observers. Johnson eventually became the NAACP's Chief Executive of Operations, where he oversees the executive office of the President and CEO.
In 2005, Johnson was inducted into the Kentucky Civil Rights Hall of Fame. He was appointed into his current position as Executive Director of the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights on September 1, 2007.
Under Johnson’s leadership, the agency has established a successful Mediation Unit, providing opportunities for parties to meet, address their concerns, and ultimately form agreements that many times resolve cases promptly, efficiently, and to the satisfaction of the parties involved. Ongoing monthly Advocacy Hearing and Listening Tours have been launched that allow the agency’s eleven-member Board of Commissioners to continually assess the status of protected classes statewide.
Johnson and his wife, Courtrina, reside in the Louisville Metropolitan community of Prospect, Kentucky.

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