Son wants city to honor dad - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Son wants city to honor dad

August 6, 2002

The son of the man credited with desegregating the city of Albany's work force wants a building to be named in his father's honor. Today, Yaz Johnson asked city commissioners to consider naming either the new government complex on Pine Avenue or the proposed new Police Department after his late father, Johnny Johnson.

Johnson won a federal desegregation order against the city in 1976, changing the hiring practices of the city forever.

A quarter century after Johnny Johnson won a federal court order that desegregated the city of Albany work force, his son Yaz, stood before the city commission and asked them to honor his father.

"This is an honor that's long overdue. My father changed Albany forever." Yaz wants either the new government complex or the new police station that will be placed at the corner of Jackson and Oglethorpe to be named after his father.

But, Commissioner Henry Mathis says the government building belongs to the county. "We can't name a county building. I know we have a street naming committee, but I'm not sure about a building naming committee. My fellow commissioners and I will consider Mr. Johnson's request."

Commissioners agreed to consider naming the police department. And, Yaz says the building isn't as important as the gesture. "I don't care which building they choose. I just want to see something done for my father."

In the mid 60's, Johnny Johnson and other black city employees opposed segregated bathrooms, water fountains, and unequal pay scales. In 1972, Johnson was fired, prompting 250 black employees to walk off their jobs.

In 1976, U.S. District Judge Wilbur Owens ordered the city to hire enough blacks to be proportional to the population of working aged blacks in Albany. Johnson reminded commissioners that some of them would not be at the round table today if it weren't for his father.

Johnson died in 2000 at 59 years old. Yaz plans to make the same request to county commissioners at their next meeting.