Lionel Johnson, the former chair of the board of the Southern University System in Louisiana, died on April 28. He was 82 years old.
Johnson was appointed to the newly formed Southern University System in 1974 by then-Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards. Johnson was subsequently elected as chair, a position he held for 10 years.
Johnson was an English teacher for eight years in East Feliciana Parish. He was a pastor for more than 36 years at three churches — Third Mt. Carmel Baptist Church in Sunshine, Louisiana; St. Joseph Baptist Church in St. Gabriel, Louisiana; and Greater Ebenezer Baptist Church in Plaquemine, Louisiana.
Ray L. Belton, current president of the Southern University System, stated that “Rev. Johnson’s service to our institutions was part of a great trajectory, forming Southern into the first system of historically Black colleges and universities in the nation. He was the epitome of a servant-leader not only for Southern but also for his community. While his physical presence will be missed by many, his contributions will live on through countless more for years to come.”
Johnson was a graduate of Southern University in Baton Rouge. He held a master’s degree in curriculum development from the University at Albany of the State University of New York System.