Red Wall & Stairs

About Dr. Josie


Dr. Josie R. Johnson is a “living legend” in Minnesota. An educator, activist and public servant for more than seven decades, she is a beloved member of the local and national civil rights community.


She has been involved with civil rights and campaigns both locally and nationally. In the 1950s and '60s, Johnson lobbied to pass Minnesota's anti-discrimination laws. She was also at Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s side at the March on Washington. She is a committed champion for fair housing, equal employment and better educational outcomes for children. Dr. Johnson taught in the African American Studies Department at the University of Minnesota and became the first African American appointed to the university's Board of Regents.


Dr. Johnson is the recipient of numerous awards and honors. The University of Minnesota established the Annual Josie Robinson Johnson Human Rights and Social Justice Award in her honor. Her story is an integral part of Minneapolis’ identity. She published her memoir “Hope in the Struggle” in 2019.


"We will survive, we will live, and we will hope."

- Dr. Josie R. Johnson