Son remembers his father's legacy - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Son remembers his father's legacy

February 28, 2006

Albany-- Even as Black History Month comes to an end, some African-Americans want to make sure we realize and remember trailblazers who worked and sacrificed and made history right here in south Georgia. One man hopes to continue his father's dream.

Reverend Yaz Johnson preaches on Sundays but the rest of the week the photographer can be found bringing life to colorful pictures. "I just enjoy what I do," says Johnson. But the biggest inspiration for Johnson lies in pictures of black and white. They show his father.

"I miss him tremendously," says Johnson.

His father helped lead the way to many changes in Albany. "My father, Reverend Johnnie Johnson, Jr. is the one that actually initiated and made the change for the city employees here in Albany, Georgia," says Johnson. In 1972, Johnson walked off his job as a public works employee.

"There came a time when he just said enough was enough," says Johnson. More than 200 other city employees followed him because of unequal pay and unequal treatment. "Garbage was building up for weeks, no black employees working at that particular time," says Johnson.

Johnson won a discrimination suit that forced the city to provide blacks with equal pay and allow them to apply for supervisory positions. "It's a lot better. There's a saying that if you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything," says Lt. James Williams of the Albany Police Department.

Williams knew Johnson and says he wouldn't be where he is without his stand. "We've come a long way but we still have a long ways to go," says Williams.

In 1979, Gary Ball was one of 15 black firemen out of about 170. "If that individual, if Reverend Johnson didn't step forward, then who knows what would it be like today," says Ball. Johnson's son continues to credit his father for paving the way for many city positions and will continue to fight for his dream.

"I'm going to continue to keep my father's legacy alive," says Johnson. He's making sure those pictures and memories don't fade.

Yaz Johnson says he'll continue working to get the city to name a public building in honor of his father.

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