Portrait of Judge Frank M. Johnson, Jr.

Johnson Centennial

The Johnson Centennial Symposium | January 23-24, 2019 | Montgomery, AL

On January 23 & 24, 2019, more than 400 people gathered at sites around Montgomery, Alabama for events in honor of the one hundredth anniversary of Judge Frank M. Johnson, Jr.’s birth. Speakers shared stories of Judge Johnson and Alabama’s challenging history. The videos and photos here, presented in order of the Symposium’s agenda, capture some of the moving presentations and events from the Centennial Symposium honoring Judge Johnson and his legacy.

Photograph of judges and attorneys general discussing bombing

Wednesday, January 23

In Pursuit of Justice: The Investigation, Historic Trial and Conviction of the First Klansman for the 16th Street Baptist Church Bombing | Alabama Shakespeare Festival

A re-enactment through conversations with the three state prosecutors: Former Alabama Attorney General Bill Baxley, former Deputy Attorney General George Beck and former Assistant Attorney General Ed Carnes, with Honorable United States District Judge Myron H. Thompson presiding.

VIDEO | In Pursuit of Justice

Having the opportunity to clerk for Judge Frank M. Johnson Jr. was one of the most memorable experiences of our lives. His wisdom, integrity, devotion to the Constitution, commitment to public service, sense of humor, common sense, and respect for fellow human beings made him the perfect role model. We learned many lessons, in law and in life, from Judge Johnson and are endlessly grateful for the time he shared with us.

Photograph of David Bagwell and Cathy Wright

Thursday, January 24

Our Time With Judge Johnson | The Kress Building

A morning rumination with David Bagwell and Cathy Wright, former law clerks to Judge Frank M. Johnson Jr.

VIDEO | Our Time with Judge Johnson
TRANSCRIPT | Our Time with Judge Johnson

There is more to Montgomery's significance to the Civil Rights Movement than what occurred in the courtroom. In this city, you can visit Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s church, the site of Rosa Parks' arrest, and the Alabama State Capitol, where the marches for voting rights ended. These leaders and events mark the city as historically important in the fight for justice and racial equality. But Montgomery offers even more through its museums and memorials that commemorate the cost of such freedom.

Service remembering Judge Johnson, at the Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church

Thursday, January 24

Remembering Judge Johnson: A Service of Inspiration, Unity and Thanksgiving | Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church
Honorable U.S. District Judge Emily C. Marks presiding, the service included greetings from Reverend Cromwell Handy, comments by dignitaries, readings from local Alabama Shakespeare Festival's Greta Lambert and judges, and hymns performed and led by the Alabama State University choir, under the direction of Dr. Kris Sanchak.

VIDEO | Remembering Judge Johnson: A Service of Inspiration, Unity, and Thanksgiving
TRANSCRIPT | Remembering Judge Johnson: A Service of Inspiration, Unity, and Thanksgiving

Judge Frank M. Johnson Jr. was a federal jurist who in spite of death threats and intense societal pressure made civil rights decisions that helped change the segregationist practices of the South. In a time when Jim Crow laws oppressed African-Americans and peaceful protests were met with violence from government authorities and the public, Judge Johnson stood firm in defense of civil liberties. His decisions on voting rights, equal-opportunity employment, affirmative action, humane conditions for prison inmates, and the rights of mental patients to adequate care affected the nation and the world.

Photograph of judges and Ambassador Young in Courtroom 2FMJ

Thursday, January 24

When an Eagle Shields the Dove | The Frank M. Johnson Jr. Courthouse and Federal Building

Ambassador Andrew Young, Pulitzer Prize-winning author and journalist Howell H. Raines, Alabama author Wayne Flynt, and others offer reflections on the life and legacy of a modest but distinguished gentleman, soldier and judge whose respect for the Constitution and insistence upon equal justice under the law gave flight to a movement that changed the world forever. Honorable Chief U.S. District Judge W. Keith Watkins presiding.

VIDEO | When an Eagle Shields the Dove
TRANSCRIPT | When an Eagle Shields the Dove