Autobiography Of Charles Johnson And James Blackwell Biography Sample
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Born on July 24, 1893 and March 4, 1926, Dr. Charles S. Johnson and Dr. James E. Blackwell respectively, became two of the greatest sociologists of their time. Both earning Doctorate degrees from distinguished institutions, these sociologists have truly created an impact in the lives of all Americans. They have bravely fought the status quo and used their knowledge to their advantage. They have created better homes and better places to work at for all people without a single regard for race, gender or status. Because of their higher degrees of education, they were able to uplift the spirits of the people by promoting and creating equal opportunities for all. Despite the test of times, those with a braver heart will emerge from the crowd. Gifted with a curious mind and a courageous heart, Charles Johnson and James Blackwell have well made their mark in the field of Sociology.
Despite the test of times, those with a braver heart will emerge from the crowd. Gifted with a curious mind and a courageous heart, Charles Johnson and James Blackwell have well made their mark in the field of Sociology. They have established better lives for the African-American race that was not an easy task to accomplish amidst the time of segregation. As a tribute to their contributions to all American citizens regardless of race, gender and status, this autobiography notes their greatest accomplishments in life. One of which is the fight for an equal America.
“As writers, I think we are obliged not so much to always add new layers of interpretation onto what we know as we are to strip away as best we can the official interpretations that prevent us from undergoing a fresh experience with our subject.”
- Charles S. Johnson
The marriage of Charles Henry Johnson and Winifred Branch brought into this world six children. One of these children made a mark on today’s African-American History. Charles Spurgeon Johnson was born on the 24th of July 1893. He was the eldest of the siblings and was named after Charles Haddon Spurgeon, one of the great Baptist Preachers. Robert, who was the next son, died at an early age. Then there was Maurice, Sarah, Julia May and Lillie Ida. A few years later, one of her sisters, Julia May Johnson will earn her Master’s Degree at Fisk University in the same department that’s led by her brother.
During the earlier years of his life, Charles Johnson was molded by the safety of a middle-class religious home. His formative years were shaped mostly by his firm and affectionate father. According to Charles, his father’s unique difference from the usual Negro minister was in the confidence and the quality of his education. At an earlier age, Charles Johnson was already open to Western literature, history, and theology. During the time he already went to high school, he had already shown proficiency to certain works such as the Sermons of Spurgeon; Gibbon’s the decline and fall of the Roman Empire and Greek Mythology.
Charles Johnson’s childhood was identified as unwavering and decent. He was sheltered from the disagreeable face of racial bias. However, as the eldest, he had to perform his part of the work. As a young boy, Charles shined shoes in a barbershop named “Mr. Davis.” The owner, Davis, served white customers in his barbershop. According to Gilpin & Gasman (2003), his sister Julia, recalled that the young Charles spent hours listening to the customers’ conversations. Even as a boy, he already took a liking in the tribulations of humankind and society. Gilpin & Gasman (2003), report that his skills as a thorough recorder, natural observer, and a wise analyst were first formed in his role as an “invisible listener” in the barbershop. However, his respect for the white race was somehow diminished when he saw some aspects of the white behavior that is different from his upbringing while working for resorts and hotels. Gilpin & Gasman (2003), state that the disrespect was not even compensated by their prestige in other aspects of society.
Charles married Marie Antoinette Brugette Johnson where they had four children. These children were: Charles Jr., Robert, Patricia, and Jeh. He eventually died of a heart attack on October 27, 1956 in Louisville, Kentucky.
Education and Training
During that time when Charles Spurgeon Johnson was growing up, Bristol had no high schools yet. At the age of fourteen, Charles followed his father’s footsteps and went to Richmond. There he was enrolled in high school at Wayland Academy. He then finished his B.A. in Sociology at Virginia Union. He started college in the year 1913 and took what was then called “over class” or extra courses. He graduated from college in the year 1916. As a student Gilpin & Gasman (2003), note that he was described by former classmates as an “active student in all activities, but also someone who did very little socializing.”
The young Charles was the main member of the university’s quartet by which he sang a Tenor. Since his football injury made a great impact on his kidney during high school, this ended his journey on the gridiron. However, he did not stop there. Charles joined the college tennis team and at the same time served as the manager of the football and baseball teams. He was also the editor-in-chief of the college journal, president of the student council, and a member of the Lyceum Club.
Alongside with his extra-curricular activities, he also participated in the glee club and the debate team by which he was an active member. In summer, he worked as a guard on one of the steamers from New York to Providence. Since the job was not demanding, he had a lot of free time and spent this time reading. On the other hand, during the academic year, Johnson worked at the library, three hours a day six times a week. His last year in the University led to an experience that made an impact on his life. While engrossed in a project for the Richmond Welfare Association, he found a girl alone in an old shack already in labor. He tried searching for help but to no avail; he failed. Although he was able to find a midwife for the girl, his attempts to create a living for the girl and her child also failed. The girl's family refused to speak to her as well as institutions and groups who avoided her for reasons because she was black and that she was a sinner. While continuing his efforts, the girl disappeared, and he was never able to stop pondering on the instance ever since. After that year, the young Charles was able to graduate ahead of time, and he was chosen to deliver the Valedictory speech. He was able to earn his Doctorate in the year 1917 at the University of Chicago, Illinois where he also studied with the well-known Sociologist, Robert Park.
Contributions and Career
During the year 1919, the race riots broke out in different states in the United States. At this time, Charles Johnson worked for a commission on race relations. From 1928 to 1947, he then served as a professor of Sociology, founder of the Social Center and the Director of the Department of Social Science. Moving forward, he then became the Social Science Institute Director at Fisk University. During his term at Fisk University, he was a member of different committees and boards. In the years 1942 to 1948, he was appointed as the Co-director of the Race Relations Program of the Julius Rosenwald Fund. At the same time during his term as the co-director of the Julius Rosenwald Fund, Charles was also the director of the race relations program of the American Missionary Association. Aside from being the director of different race relations programs, Johnson also served as the Director of the Southern Regional Division of the Negro Youth Study of the American Council on Education. In the year 1946, he was then elected president of Fisk University by the Board of Trustees. His term as president opened doors for him to serve as a delegate for the United States to the UNESCO.
The start of the Race Riots in Chicago moved Charles Johnson to publish his first book that is the Negro in Chicago: A Study of Race Relations and a Race Riot. This book was opened to the public in the year 1922 in response to the race riots that began in the year 1919. He also found himself in a venture for the Opportunity: A Journal of Negro Life which became the official paper of the National Urban League. During his time at Fisk University, he led two research projects that eventually came to be classic monographs. These were: the Shadow of Plantation and Growing up in the Black Belt. After these publications, his book on the sociological and historical conditions in Liberia, Africa, known as Bitter Canaan came out in the year 1946. Being a member of the John Hay Whitney Foundation opened his doors to create his book Education and Cultural Crisis in the year 1951.
“We were young. We thought we could make the world a better place,”
-James E. Blackwell
Life and Education
Born on March 4, 1926 in Anniston, AL, James E. Blackwell became one of the famous African-American Sociologists of his time. In the year 1960s, he married Myrtle Dapremont. In his earlier years as a student, he attended Wilberforce University in the years 1943 to 1944. After those years, he then moved to the Western Reserve University (now the Case Western), to earn his Bachelor of Science degree in the year 1948. In 1949, he then received his Master of Arts Degree from the same institution. Then in the year 1959, he earned his PhD., from the Washington State University. In an article written by Caraher (2002), it was said that when Blackwell enrolled in the Ph.D. program at Washington State, there were only fifteen black students inside the campus. He was attracted to the University’s Ph.D. program because of its new Sociology program offering and because of the opportunity to teach in the department. According to him and Caraher (2002) quotes, “I had to prove my worth just to anyone else. That’s what I loved about Washington State. It was one of the most intellectually stimulating, useful, and exigent experiences I’ve ever had.”
Contributions and Career
After completing his Doctorate at the Washington State University, Blackwell earned memberships in different groups. These include the American Sociological Association, Society for the Study of Social Problems and the Sociological Research Association, Caucus of Black Sociologists. Added to his long line of credentials were his associations with the African Studies Association, the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Blackwell began his continuing fight in favor of desegregation when he became president of the NAACP by raising its numbers from 250 members to 1,200. During his term he fought to cease discrimination in the society’s public facilities, he pressured the city government to create just housing facilities, and he challenged the discrimination in employment of certain department stores. Because of his conviction, he came to advance as leaders of these organizations that led to his success as a Sociologist.
He started his career as an instructor at Benedict College teaching biology in the year 1941 to 1951. Blackwell then moved to another teaching job in Shorter College as an instructor in Biology in the years 1951 to 1952. After his stint in these colleges, he became at an assistant professor of social science and biology in the years 1952 to 1955 in the San Jose State University. In the said university, he helped enrolled six students on waived tuition fees after being removed from the Alabama State University because of their protest for segregation.
Because of his reputation and merit, he eventually became an associate professor of sociology in the same university before joining the US Peace Corps in 1963 to 1964. He served as the Peace Corps’ acting director in Tanganyika and Malawi. After his mission for the US Peace Corps, he came back as a professor this time at Case Western University where he taught Sociology in the year 1969 to 1970. Moving to greater heights, he was now a Professor of Sociology and Chair of the Department at the University of Massachusetts. Because of his accomplishments as a distinguished member of the academe, Blackwell was hailed as the 31st recipient of the prestigious Washington State University Regents Distinguished Alumnus Award. This award is the highest recognition given by the University. He was then hired at the same university, to build its young Sociology and Anthropology Department.
Blackwell has always believed in desegregation. He has always had high regards for higher education and equal chances for all citizens of the United States. His goal has always been to help his students achieve a greater appreciation of knowledge, not for the sake of knowledge alone, but them to become contributing citizens of the country.
James Edward Blackwell has also had his share of creating books for the education of the people. Among his published works include: The black community: diversity and unity that was published in 1991. Another book he wrote was Cities, Suburbs, and Blacks: A Study of Concerns, Distrust, and Alienation, which came out in the public in the year 1982. Lastly, there is the book, Mainstreaming Outsiders: the Production of Black Professionals that was published in the year 1987.
These Sociologists have truly created an impact in the lives of all Americans. They have bravely fought the status quo and used their knowledge to their advantage. They have created better homes and better places to work at for all people without a single regard for race, gender or status. Because of their higher degrees of education, they were able to uplift the spirits of the people by promoting and creating equal opportunities for all. Without their courage to fight and advocate desegregation, this country would still be drowned in the waters of slavery and segregation of colors. They have opened the minds of the many through gaining education and becoming distinguished members of the society. Not only have they achieved the knowledge that they would need to rise above the ranks but also they were two of the greatest contributors to the society.
Black Past Org. (n.d.). Johnson, Charles S. (1893-1956) | The Black Past: Remembered and Reclaimed. Retrieved from http://www.blackpast.org/aah/johnson-charles-s-1893-1956
Caraher, P. (2002). Blackwell makes his mark :: Fall 2002 :: Washington State Magazine. Retrieved from http://wsm.wsu.edu/s/index.php?id=64
Conner, M. C., & Nash, W. R. (2007). Charles Johnson: The novelist as philosopher. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi.
Gilpin, P., & Gasman, M. (2003). Charles S. Johnson: Leadership Beyond the Veil in the Age of Jim Crow. Albany: State U of New York P.
LibGuides at North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University. (2002). James E. Blackwell - Sociology - LibGuides at North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University. Retrieved from http://libguides.library.ncat.edu/content.php?pid=43932&sid=410972
The Biography.com website. (2015). Charles S. Johnson. Retrieved from http://www.biography.com/people/charles-s-johnson-21369565#fisk-university-and-political-involvement
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