Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.
There is actually very little material
on Vernon Johns. As long as the country remains pretty solidly racist,
it will not honor the real Vernon Johns.
Connie Chung helped kick off the rediscovery of Vernon Johns with a television program on "God's Bad Boys," one of whom was Vernon Johns. Or as Johns would object: you mean, "God's Good Boys."
Then Taylor Branch in his book Parting the Waters went a long way to saving Johns' reputation and achievements. We thank Mr. Branch, but do want to add that the liberal racists in the South kept Johns pretty much without an audience. And even when the civil rights movement itself started, Johns was still not given the recognition or the platform he deserved. At that time the civil rights movement was too scared of what Johns might have said. He was never one to be politically correct and might have said things that possibly could have been used against the movement, but at what price this silence? Silencing Johns was a terrible loss to the entire society, not just the civil rights community.
The movie "The Vernon Johns Story" aired January 15, 1994. We have not seen it aired since. The movie obviously did not generate that much interest. And the movie was done in the current popular self-empowerment mode of current politically correct thinking. In other words, Johns was made out to be pretty much just another black hero meant to inspire African-Americans. These stories have their place, but the tragedy is that they push out any real attempts to analyze why American racism continues to this day, nearly 400 years after the first slaves arrived.
Several authors are working on biographies of Vernon Johns. These are not yet published.
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