University gives monumental thanks

During this year’s homecoming celebration, Florida A&M University will unveil a monument honoring the life of the late Leonard W. Johnson, Ph.D., former FAMU National Alumni Association president. The unveiling of the monument is scheduled for Friday, at 9 a.m. near Jones Hall.

During the ceremony President James H. Ammons along with FAMU’s National Alumni Association, the Philadelphia NAA and Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. will exhibit a formal tribute to Johnson.

Carmen Cummings-Martin, director of alumni affairs, expressed her excitement about the unveiling of Johnson’s monument.

“As the director of alumni affairs, I am honored to be a part of this celebration in honor of [the] life and legacy of Leonard Johnson,” Martin said. “He was truly a trailblazer.”

Martin said during a time when FAMU was under immense pressure to merge with Florida State University, Johnson stood strong in his fight to sustain the legacy of FAMU. He was influential in rallying alumni to aid him and the University president at the time, B.L. Perry, in the fight to save FAMU.

“He was instrumental in demanding that our people, the people of Florida A&M University, say ‘no we will not do that,'” Martin said. “With this monument, we are recognizing the time, passion and tenacity that Dr. Johnson dedicated to FAMU.”

Johnson not only played a major part in ensuring that FAMU was not merged with FSU, he also served as the president of FAMU’s National Alumni Association from 1970-1980.

He was an avid financial supporter and continuously recruited students for the University.

Elizabeth Dawson, archivist and curator of the Carrie Meek – James N. Eaton Sr. Southeastern Regional Black Archives Research Center and Museum, attributes FAMU’s existence today to Johnson.

“There may not be a FAMU today had it not been for the unwavering work and pressing efforts of Dr. Johnson,” Dawson said. “He was not only a physician, mentor and molder of men and women, but a true servant and protector of all people, and especially his beloved FAMU.

Dawson continued.

“For his unselfish life and his noble labors we are all forever grateful,” Dawson said. “People need to know about and acknowledge his contributions and his legacy. And this is why this monument is being erected in his honor.”

Paivia Brown, 19, a sophomore physiology student from Evanston, Ill. said she is grateful for Johnson’s contribution to the university and that Johnson truly deserves this monument.

“It’s not just an honor to him but an honor to FAMU students,” Brown said. “We, as students, should have a great deal of respect for Johnson and his bravery as a black man.”

Brown said if it were not for him, FAMU would have never had the chance to stand on its own as self- sustaining university.

“We owe it to him to continue the great legacy he fought for.” Brown said.