Dr. Willard R. Johnson is Professor Emeritus of Political Science. During thirty two years (1964-1996) of class-room teaching at MIT, he specialized in topics relating to African studies, comparative and international politics (especially as regards poor or developing countries,) and promotion of development in American inner-city areas. His previous and continuing research and activism has sought to foster the achievement of equity, freedom, and economic and political development, by historically victimized peoples.
Johnson's presentation to the University of Johannesburg, South Africa,
June 2017 Conference
"The Pan-African Pantheon"
was on the contributions to Pan-Africanism by Mr. Harry Belafonte.
> Dr. Johnson was a panelist on an MIT sponsored forum concerned with the status and history of minorities in the United States society. The panelists attest to the long and tortuous journey that minority groups have undertaken for citizenship and full inclusion in U.S. society, a journey that is far from over. For his 20+ minute presentation on "Concepts of citizenship relevant to Blacks with Indians," move the cursor within the video, to the one hour and seventeen minutes (1:17) location. click here for a link to that video
> Dr. Johnson was a panelist on the WGBH TV program "Basic
his 5 December 2013 passing. click
here to go to the website site for that 30 minute broadcast. For the
after-broadcast, online discussion, click
> Dr. Johnson was a panelist on the WGBH TV program "Basic Black,"discussing the legacy of Nelson Mandela
following his 5 December 2013 passing. click here to go to the website site for that 30 minute broadcast. For the after-broadcast, online discussion, click here
In 2013 Dr. Johnson edited and published a novel written some years earlier
by one of his aunts, Mrs. Ethel Johnson Cherry, about German immigrants
who settled south-western Kansas
and developed wheat farming there. Entitled "Patriarchs of the Prairie,"
this romance novel is historically well informed. Over the course of the
three generations that the story covers, we are introduced to the hardships,
the abuses, the triumphs, the drawbacks and the benefits that came with
the “Americanization” of the Mid-West, however narrow and singular
a slice it is of that jagged history storyline. Told in an interesting fashion,
with accessible language, honed craft, familiar ideas and experiences, and
with real moral instruction, this novel is very suitable for young, as well
as adult, readers. - - (Royalties will go to the KIAANAFH. Available in
paperback or e-book formats from Amazon.com)
> The Kansas Institute of African American and Native American Family History (KIAANAFH) is a non-profit membership organization to commemorate pioneer African American families of the Mid-West, and especially to document the historic ties between African- and Native-Americans, and to promote their collaboration and common interests. Click here to go to the website> KIAANAFH
> In 2013 Dr. Johnson edited and published a novel written some years earlier by one of his aunts, Mrs. Ethel Johnson Cherry, about German immigrants who settled south-western Kansasin the post American Civil War period,
and developed wheat farming there. Entitled "Patriarchs of the Prairie," this romance novel is historically well informed. Over the course of the three generations that the story covers, we are introduced to the hardships, the abuses, the triumphs, the drawbacks and the benefits that came with the “Americanization” of the Mid-West, however narrow and singular a slice it is of that jagged history storyline. Told in an interesting fashion, with accessible language, honed craft, familiar ideas and experiences, and with real moral instruction, this novel is very suitable for young, as well as adult, readers. - - (Royalties will go to the KIAANAFH. Available in paperback or e-book formats from Amazon.com)click here to order
> Transcription of a “breakout session” panel at the 57th Annual Session of the National Council of American Indians that focussed on "The Legacy and Future of Black/Indian Relations." The session was organized by former Cherokee Principal Chief Wilma Mankiller, with the assistance of Dr. Johnson and the KIAANAFH. The transcription was rendered by Dr. Johnson. You may download and print this transcription for personal, classroom, civic-organizational or other strictly non-commercial uses only. NCAI Transcript Black/Indian Relations This was the first session in the 57 year history (to that time) of the NCAI, devoted specifically to discussing African American/Native American historic relations.
The Boston Pan-African Forum is a non-profit membership organization
devoted to promoting mutually beneficial relations between the United
States and the countries and peoples of Africa and the African Diaspora.
It meets monthly and carries out special projects. Click this
link for the current Boston Pan-African
Forum webpage For the Bay State Banner's posting of the article
by Mr. Yawu Miller, reporting on the May, 2014 Annual Meeting, in which
the history of Africans in Venezuela was discussed, click
For the Bay State Banner's posting of the article
by Mr. Yawu Miller, reporting on the May, 2014 Annual Meeting, in which
the history of Africans in Venezuela was discussed, click
* * * * * *
Throughout his professional career, Dr. Johnson has combined scholarship
and teaching with leadership in public education and political activism
relating to the economic and political advancement of disadvantaged or historically
victimized communities. Dr. Johnson's research interests have included African
politics and international relations and foreign policy, especially as regards
ending colonialism, dependency, racism and apartheid in Africa. For several
years he directed the “Business Management for Economic Development” research
project that focussed on the role and potential of finance institutions
and non-governmental organizations to enhance African human and organizational
He is one of
the founders and Senior Advisors to the Boston Pan-African Forum Inc., which
fosters public education about and engagement with the African world. He was
one of the founders and served on the national Boards of Directors of TransAfrica
and the TransAfrica Forum. He also founded and led the TransAfrica Boston
Chapter and its "Free South Africa Movement" campaign that was instrumental
in making the banning of South African Kruggerrand coins part of the national
U.S. anti-apartheid agenda. He helped to establish and/or lead a number of
other organizations that have fostered a sense of activism and responsibility
among professional scholars as well as the general public, for African liberation
and development and for U.S. foreign policies and actions respecting underdeveloped
countries that are more mutually beneficial. He served on the Project
Advisory Board of the USA for Africa (United Support of Artists for Africa
- the "We Are The World" producer) 1985-1992.
1972 Dr. Johnson directed the Africa Policy Task Force for the McGovern for
President Committee, and throughout the 1970s he served on the Democratic
Party Advisory Council's Foreign Affairs Study Group. His earlier public service
included two terms on the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO.
leave of absence from his duties at M.I.T. in the late 1960s, Dr. Johnson
helped to establish and for two years led a Roxbury community-owned and based
non-profit economic development promotion complex, the Circle Inc., that included
an education and training as well as public affairs and planning consulting
firm (Circle Associates, Inc.), a small business development center, an investment
fund (The Circle Venture Capital Fund), and a management training institute
(The Roxbury Institute of Business Management).
Johnson received his Bachelor of Arts degree at UCLA in 1957 (where he was
President of the Student Body). He then served for two years as a National
Vice President (of Educational Affairs, and then of International Affairs)
of the U.S. National Student Association. In 1961 he earned a Master of Arts
degree "with distinction" from the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced
International Studies, and in 1965, his Doctor of Philosophy degree from Harvard
Some Post-retirement Publications and Presentations include:
Presentation to two Ringling College classes, Sarasota, FL, January 2014, on the American contributions to the Anti-Apartheid Movement, and remembering Mandela..
"Report on the National Park Service national conference on "Under-Ground Railroad Routes South," held in St. Augustine FL, June 2012," made to the New England Chapter of the African American Historical and Genealogy Society, Bedford, MA, October 20, 2012. This was a joint presentation by Dr.s Willard R. and Vivian R. Johnson. Vivian's presentation gave the background of the UGRR conferences, and the patterns of the practice of slavery in Spanish Florida, with analysis of the impact of Catholic Church policies and practices in lessening some of the burdens of slavery in that territory. Willard's portion of the joint presentation focused on the experience of escaped Africans who joined with Seminole Indians, and/or travelled on to the Bahamas, Cuba, and with the Seminoles on to Indian Territory and to Mexico.
"Fissures in the Fabric of Black-Indian Relations: Recent Developments Regarding Freedmen Citizenship among the 'Five Civilized Tribes'," presentations to the to the Association for the Study of. African American Life and History, National Conference, Pittsburg, PA, September 29, 2012, and to the "Manasota Chapter" of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, Sarasota, Florida, Feb. 24, 2012.
"African Politics and International Relations after Independence: Some Major Patterns and Examples," guest lecture for a course on Africa at the Ringling College, Sarasota, Florida. Feb. 2012.
"African Politics and International Relations after Independence," guest lecture to course on Africa at the Ringling College, Sarasota, FL, Mr. 20, 2011
“African American Solidarity with Africa in Historical Perspective” presentation to the Sarasota United Nations Association, Feb. 28, 2011
“Concepts of Citizenship among some Native American Nations,” presentation to MIT symposium on
“ Human Diversity and the Social order—Minorities in the United States” Feb. 24, 2011.
"Controversies Regarding Continued Citizenship of Blacks among some Native American Nations." Presentation to the "Free Thinkers Program" of the Universalits-Unitarian Church of Sarasota, Florida. Feb. 2011.
Moderator and Summary statements for “Reflections on International Humanitarian Interventions in Africa: A Symposium,” 21 to 23 September 2010 – Addis Ababa Ethiopia, sponsored by USA for Africa.
“The History of Ancient African Civilization” and “History of Black/Indian Relations” two 12 hour, non-credit
courses at The Pierian Spring Academy, Sarasota, FL, Jan-March, 2010
“The International Significance of the Obama Campaign: Remarks to MIT Students for Obama,” April 11, 2007 and published on the Dr. Joyce “Ladner Report” blog, 2009
”Citizenship controversies for African Americans in some U.S. Native American nations: an historical context.” Presentation to the National Conference of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, Cincinnati, OH. Oct. 2009
“Halpata Micco: Billy Bowlegs” posting on BlackPast.org -An Online Reference Guide to African American History, edited by Dr. Quintard Taylor. 2008 www.blackpast.org See also:
"Willard Johnson, Sr.” posting on BlackPast.org. op.cit. – 2008
" Dr. Martin L. Kilson” posting on BlackPast.org. op.cit. – 2008
“Governon Deval Patrick” posting on BlackPast.org op. cit.- 2008
“Rev. Chris Nteta, - the Wise Counselor.” Comments at the Funeral of Rev. Christopher Nteta, North Andover, MA. May 3 2008
“Tribal Tribulations – Fissures in the Fabric of African American/Native American relations” Conference at Univ.
of Cotonou, Benin (West Africa) July 2008
“Rights campaigns as a basis for social change - drawing lessons from the American anti-Apartheid movement.” UNESCO Inter-generational Conference on Human Rights, Univ. of Connecticut. August 8 2005
“Of Bonds and Bondage: Exploring the Scope, Complexity and Meaning of the Black/Indian Connection,” presentation to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, November 1, 2005.
“Building an American Constituency for Africa: Sustaining the Success of the National Summit on Africa,” in Jemadari Kamara and Tony Menelik Van Der Meer (Ed.s) The State of the Race- Creating our 21st Century: Where Do We Go From Here? Boston: Diaspora Press. 2004
“A Man of Courage and Integrity,” in Walter A. Rosenblith (Ed.) Jerry Wiesner: Scientist, Statesman, Humanist. Cambridge: MA The MIT Press. 2003
"Hidden Aspects of African American Roots in the Mid-West: The 1861/61 'Great Escape' of Blacks and Indians into Kansas," presentation to the Annual Meeting of the African American Historical and Genealogical Society, (AAHGS), Washington DC.. 2002. and to the AAHGS- New England 2003
“Tracing Trails of Blood on Ice” Negro History Bulletin. Vol 64 No.s 1-4 2001
“The Legacy and Future of Black/Indian Relations,” transcription by Dr. Willard R. Johnson of a panel at the National Council of American Indians , Nov. 14 2000 , that Dr. Johnson organized with and for Cherokee Principal Chief Wilma Mankiller, published by KIAANAFH: 2001. Available on-line through www.KIAANAFH.org.
“CD of Spreadsheet Transcription & Graphic Scan of 1869 Pension Census of the Cherokee Nation” by Dr. Willard R. Johnson. Published by KIAANAFH, Cambridge, MA. 2001
“Willard R. Johnson” oral history interview by Clarence G. Williams, in his Technology and the Dream: Reflections on the Black Experience at MIT, 1941-1999. Cambridge, MA: MIT University Press 2001 Click here to link to this chapter
For other links to some of the above items and others, see below:
Blackpast.org vignettes regarding: Seminole Chief Halpata
Micco/ Billy Bowlegs vignette , as well as Harvard Prof. Martin L. Kilson,
MA Gov. Deval L. Patrick,
Bacteriologist Willard Johnson (Sr.)., Click here for general Blackpast.org site
“Tracing Trails of Blood on Ice,” Negro History Bulletin. Vol 64 No.s 1-4, 2001.
“Peace and Security” with Dr.s Jendayi Frazer (Chair of Expert Group), Beverlee Bruce, Michael Chege, David Smock. Thematic Working Paper Series. Washington DC.: The National Summit on Africa. June 1998.
“African Odyssey: What role should the U.S. take in Africa?” PBS Online Newshour: Online Forum. April 2, 1998. (click here for this item)