Joseph B. Johnson

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Joseph B. Johnson

3rd president of Grambling State
University in Louisiana
In office
Preceded by Ralph Waldo Emerson Jones

17th president of Talladega College in Alabama
Assumed office 

Born 1934
New Orleans, Louisiana
Died January 2, 2018 (aged 83)
Fayetteville, Fayette County
Spouse(s) Lula Young Johnson

Yolanda Johnson Dixon
Juliet Johnsone
Dr. Julie Johnson
Joseph B. Johnson, III
Two grandchildren

Religion African Methodist Episcopal Church

Joseph Benjamin Johnson, II (1934 – January 2, 2018), was an African-American educator who was the third president of Grambling State University in Louisiana and the seventeenth president of Talladega College in Alabama, both historically black institutions of higher education.

A native of New Orleans, Louisiana, Johnson was one of three children of Sidney T. Johnson, Sr., and the former Lillie Mickens. He procured his Bachelor of Science degree in 1957 from the then Grambling College and his master's and Ph.D. from the University of Colorado at Boulder, Colorado. He engaged too in postdoctoral studies at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Johnson played basketball at Grambling College under Coach Eddie Robinson (1919-2007) and was a football quarterback while serving in the United States Army, stationed in Germany. He began his teaching career in Shreveport, Louisiana. As a high school basketball coach, he coached Greenville Park High School in Hammond in Tangiipahoa Parish to the 1968 state championship.[1]

From 1977 to 1991, Johnson succeeded Ralph Waldo Emerson Jones (1905-1982) as the Grambling president. He soon embarked on a 10-point plan to improve the historically black institution located in Grambling in Lincoln Parish just west of Ruston, During his tenure, the Grambling enrollment doubled, faculty salaries increased, and the buildings and grounds were upgraded. He expanded communication with alumni. He was president of Talladega College from 1991 to 1998, at which he launched reforms similar to those he had undertaken at Grambling, including increased enrollment and corporate, foundation, and federal support for the school.[1][2]

Johnson worked at Grambling to enhance the funding of new degree programs accredited by state and national rating agencies. He was active in the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education, and the Office for the Advancement of the Public Negro Colleges. He received an honorary doctorate from Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Michigan, Gandhigram University of India and Grambling. He received the "Tree of Life" award from the Jewish National Fund and the "Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award" from the University of Colorado. He was a recipient of the Thurgood Marshall Education Achievement Award and an inductee of the Grambling Legend Hall of Fame. He also held the honorary title of Grambling president-emeritus. He was a former trustee of the board of St. Mark American Methodist Episcopal Church in Atlanta, Georgia, where he lived during his retirement.[1]

Johnson died at the age of eighty-three in Fayetteville, Georgia. He was predeceased by his wife, the former Lula Young, originally from Hammond. The couple had four children: Yolanda Johnson Dixon (husband James) of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Juliet Johnson of Nashville, Tennessee, Dr. Julie Johnson, of Atlanta, and Joseph B. Johnson, III (wife Karen) of Alexandria, Virginia. Services were held at St. Mark A.M.E. Church. The place of interment was not announced. Johnson is honored at Grambling through the Joseph B. Johnson and Lula Young Johnson Scholarship.[1]

Upon Johnson's death, current Grambling President Richard Joseph "Rick" Gallot, Jr., a former member of both houses of the Louisiana legislature, said. “We have lost an iconic leader who elevated the standing of Grambling State University across the globe. He was my president when I was a student, and he served as a mentor and advisor very early in my tenure as president.”[3]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Dr. Joseph Benjamin Johnson obituary. Monroe News Star (January 6, 2018). Retrieved on February 7, 2018.
  2. Nikki Henderson (January 3, 2018). GSU's 3rd President, Dr. Joseph Johnson, passes away. Retrieved on February 7, 2018.
  3. In Memoriam: Joseph Benjamin Johnson, 1934-2018. Retrieved on February 7, 2018.