Distinguished Alumnus J. Chester Johnson Will Speak Wednesday and Thursday
J. Chester Johnson, poet, essayist, translator and University of Arkansas distinguished alumnus, will speak at the U of A Wednesday and Thursday, April 26-27, on two topics, including the Elaine Race Massacre of 1919.
Johnson will read from his latest volume of poetry "Now & Then: Selected Longer Poems" at 3 p.m. Wednesday in the Larry E. Coombes Memorial Auditorium in the Plant Sciences building.
On Thursday at 3 p.m. Johnson will speak about the Elaine Race Massacre of 1919 in the Center for Multicultural and Diversity Education on the fourth floor of the Arkansas Union.
The Elaine Race Massacre of 1919 is considered to be one of the single most violent attacks against African-Americans in our country's history.
According to Johnson's website: "The massacre occurred on the Arkansas side of the Mississippi River Delta over the course of several days in late September-early October, 1919, when more than a hundred and possibly hundreds of African-Americans were killed by white posses and federal troops in response to an attempt by the local black sharecroppers to unionize. Out of the massacre, a legal case arose, Moore v. Dempsey, involving six sharecroppers convicted of murder in unfair and rapid trials immediately following the massacre; in 1923, the U. S. Supreme Court decided on behalf of the sharecroppers to expand, for the first time, the federal government's role in equal protection under the law for all citizens of the nation, pursuant to the 14th amendment. This Supreme Court precedent proved monumental for the civil rights movement and for future decisions that relied on the doctrine of equal protection under the law."
Johnson has authored numerous volumes of poetry, including St. Paul's Chapel & Selected Shorter Poems, second edition (St. Johann Press); the collection's signature poem remains the memento card for the thousands of weekly visitors to the iconic chapel that survived the 9/11 terrorists' attacks at Ground Zero.
Johnson, born in Chattanooga, Tennessee, spent his youth in Monticello, Arkansas, a small town located on the cusp of the Mississippi River Delta in southeast Arkansas. Johnson owned and ran a financial advisory firm that concentrated on debt management for states, large local governments, and public authorities; he also served as deputy assistant secretary of the U. S. Treasury Department during the Carter administration. Johnson attended Harvard and the University of Arkansas (Distinguished Alumnus Award, 2010), graduating from the U of A in 1968.
For more information, please visit Johnson's website.
Scott Flanagin, executive director of communications
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