Kent: Civil rights champion Johnson honored by Hall of Fame

October 9, 2013 

Editor’s note: This is last in a series of columns about each of the 2013 Warner Robins Hall of Fame inductees.

Last week, I was interviewing a woman who mentioned that she taught at C.B. Watson the year the schools were integrated in Houston County. The conversation drifted to the lack of problems that Houston County had with integration compared to other school systems.

Part of that credit goes to Warner Robins Hall of Fame inductee the Rev. Willie J. Johnson.

Johnson was a native of Wellston and the youngest of 12 children. He worked at Robins Air Force Base, retiring after 38 years. He lived his entire life committed to God, his family and to his community.

The Georgia House of Representatives passed a resolution in 1998 commending Johnson for his lifetime of dedication. It reads in part:

WHEREAS, Reverend Johnson has devoted his life of 75 years to helping others through his leadership in the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church since 1941, as Religious Representative to the City of Warner Robins and the Houston County NAACP for the desegregation plans in the 1960s, and as a member of the board of the Georgia Council on Human Relations in the 1970s.

WHEREAS, believing that our children and youth must be trained for the future, Reverend Johnson in 1951 founded Boy Scout Troop #163, the first troop in Warner Robins for African-American boys; initiated summer Vacation Bible Schools, which included daily meals, on his own rental property in the “Old Jody Town” area; and developed plans for the same neighborhood children to participate in the Robins Air Force Base summer recreation program, which included sports, arts and crafts, library visits, and talent competitions.

According to the application submitted to the Hall of Fame, Johnson worked on a housing initiative with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to obtain affordable houses for residents in the Suzanne neighborhood, and in 1970 his vision became a reality when the residents became first-time homeowners.

Ada Lee, a lifelong resident of Houston County knew Johnson since their childhood in Wellston.

“When he was very young, about 16 years old, he became a minister,” Lee said. “He was very involved in the civil rights movement back in the day and helped to integrate the International City.”

Lee said that while Johnson was an extremely involved person in the community, it was his own character that made him a very special individual.

“He was one of the most upright men ever in the community. He was a good, good person, and he cared about his community and his neighborhood. I could just go on and on about Rev. Johnson. Everything I know about him is good. He was Christian hearted until his very last day.”

The Warner Robins Hall of Fame induction ceremony and dinner will be held Oct. 19 at 6:30 p.m. at the Museum of Aviation.

Along with Rev. Johnson, Eddie Wiggins, Charlie Singleton, William Wisse, Claude Lewis and C.B. Watson will be inducted. Tickets are on sale and can be purchased by calling 923-6752.

Contact Alline Kent at 396-2467 or

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