Dr. Willard R. Johnson is Professor Emeritus of Political Science. During thirty two years (1964-1996) of teaching and research 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 research and activism has sought to foster the achievement of equity, freedom, economic and political development, by historically victimized peoples.
Dr. Johnson’s activities related websites:
Commentary regarding the legacy of Nelson Mandela on the WGBH broadcast
of the program "Basic Black," following the 5 December 2013 passing
of Mandela click
here to go to the website site for that 30 minute broadcast. For the
after-broadcast, online discussion, click
Commentary regarding the legacy of Nelson Mandela on the WGBH broadcast of the program "Basic Black," following the 5 December 2013 passing of Mandela click here to go to the website site for that 30 minute broadcast. For the after-broadcast, online discussion, click here
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. Boston
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. KIAANAFH
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.
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 Publications and Presentations
ARTICLES, CHAPTERS, PAPERS, PRESENTATIONS since 2001
"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. 15, 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
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. http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1157/is_2001_Jan-Dec/ai_95149966 click here to order this issue online
“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. For a copy of the final Policy Plan of Action click here
“African Odyssey: What role should the U.S. take in Africa?” PBS Online Newshour: Online Forum. April 2, 1998. (click here for this item)