Leroy Johnson, First Black Georgia Senator Elected Post-Reconstruction, Dies at 91

Joe Holloway Jr./AP, FILE

A former Georgia state senator who was the first black lawmaker elected to the upper chamber after Reconstruction has died.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Tuesday that Sen. Leroy Johnson died at 91. Johnson was elected as a Democrat in 1962, three years before the Voting Rights Act was signed, and in the same freshman class as President Jimmy Carter. Johnson served until 1975.

He’s credited with a number of civil rights advances, including helping desegregate Georgia capitol facilities. In 1970, Johnson helped restart boxer Muhammad Ali’s career after he was penalized for evading the draft. Johnson worked to secure a location for Ali’s Atlanta comeback match.

Johnson graduated from Morehouse, then studied law in North Carolina because the University of Georgia didn’t yet accept black students.

He has a Georgia State Bar lifetime achievement award.


Information from: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, http://www.ajc.com

Source: Associated Press