Judge Charles V. Johnson
The Seattle King County NAACP is saddened to learn of the passing of Judge Charles V. Johnson on December 29, 2020. His extraordinary life, marked by perseverance and incredible achievements, impacted many in our community as well as nationally. Some people "don't remember," NAACP Seattle King County branch President Carolyn Riley-Payne says, "but Judge Charles Johnson was one of the great leaders in the NAACP. He pioneered the fight from the classroom, in employment in the streets and in the courts. Wherever he was, he was the unspoken giant in the room. His international impact can be felt among the many civil rights leaders, attorneys, judges he has mentored."
Born in 1928, Judge Johnson went from the US Army, to the University of Arkansas before attending Law School at the University of Washington.
"We go way back," esteemed former NAACP branch President, Lacy Steele, says of Judge Johnson, "to 1959. One of the first things I did when arriving in Seattle was get active in the NAACP, and he was here."
For 30 years, Judge Johnson was judge at the Seattle Municipal and King County Superior courts. But Judge Johnson had many extra curriculars. "He was on the National NAACP Board and so was I," Mr. Steele continues, "So, four times a year we would go to different cities to work on NAACP things. He was an unusual man. When I say unusual, he didn't mind doing the little things. Sometimes when people get to the status of attorney or judge, they feel they can't do anything and have someone else do it. He served as assistant treasurer and others without pay, President of the NW Area NAACP Conference, regionally and locally" as NAACP Seattle King County President. Mr. Steele remembers Judge Johnson helping register people to vote, advocating for law enforcement reform, outreaching to youth, and co-founding the Central Area Civil Rights Commission.
Cynthia Hobbes agrees, she used to work with Judge Johnson on the local NAACP Board. "Judge Charles Johnson," she says, "a pillar in the Community and an advocate for many. He will be missed by many, but never forgotten."
"When we talk of BLM, Judge Johnson was the epitome of Black Lives Matter for over 60 years," NAACP Seattle King County 1st Vice President, Claude Burfect, says. Vice President Burfect told us a story where, as a young father going to school in Seattle, he was being targeted by a Seattle Police Officer in racially profiling him with parking tickets after each of his classes at the University of Washington. Many tickets later, "court date time, guess who surfaced as court judge? Judge Johnson. Judge Johnson heard my story and what I was going through as a family man with a new child, working as I did in grad school, he understood my plight. The judge reduced my fine significantly with a warning to not defy the law. But Judge Johnson understood that Racism prevailed significantly within the SPD." And unfortunately, it still does.
President Riley-Payne reflects on the support Judge Johnson also gave her. "When I felt attacked within the organization he reminded me that I was bigger than what was coming at me. Then recently he said thank you for hanging in there and doing what you need to do for this NAACP branch. I said I was taught by the best. He just smiled. I knew then that he was proud of what I am doing. He will be missed, but what we do and how we do it will be his legacy to civil rights in this city. I will miss my friend."
A private family service will be held, followed by a public memorial service at a later date to be determined. Viewing hours will be 12:00 pm – 4:00 pm on Sun., Jan. 10, at Sunset Hills Funeral Home.
Don't forget our Community Businesses
When shopping and eating out this holiday season and beyond, think of our local Black-owned businesses in King County. Featured this week:
Joyce's Market & Cafe
Seattle Cheese Platters, Catering, & Tapas Bar (wixsite.com)
Current hours Tues-Sat 10am-7pm and Sunday 10am-4pm
Lots of great holiday gifts available such as wines and cheeses for Christmas or New Years! They will be
closed Dec 24-28.
2717 E. Union St., Seattle in the Madrona neighborhood
For more NAACP in the news, click here!
October 20, 2020
NAACP calls on Seattle Public Schools to terminate superintendent’s contract
Members of the NAACP and local community members spoke Tuesday, to call on the Seattle Public School District to terminate the contract of Superintendent Denise Juneau.
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