Bishop Joseph Johnson
Artist: Simmie Knox
Current Location: Kirkland Hall
Accepted to the Vanderbilt School of Religion in 1953 (renamed Vanderbilt Divinity School in 1956), Joseph Johnson was the first African American to graduate from Vanderbilt when he received a bachelor of divinity in 1954. He was also the first African American to earn a doctorate from Vanderbilt, graduating in 1958. He became a professor of religion at Fisk University and was elected the 34th bishop of the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church in 1966. In 1971, he was elected to Vanderbilt University’s Board of Trust, on which he served until his death in 1979. The Vanderbilt Black Cultural Center was dedicated in his honor in 1984. In 2014, Johnson was honored by the Divinity School with its Distinguished Alumni/ae Award.
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Photos of Bishop Joseph Johnson