Academic journal article The Journal of Negro Education

Sylvia Taylor Johnson, PhD, Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Negro Education (1994-2001): A World-Class Champion Runner

Academic journal article The Journal of Negro Education

Sylvia Taylor Johnson, PhD, Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Negro Education (1994-2001): A World-Class Champion Runner

Article excerpt

With characteristic crystal clarity and advanced, sharply honed research skills, Dr. Sylvia T. Johnson was able to take full advantage of holding the position of Editor-in-Chief of The Journal of Negro Education from 1994 to 2001. This article summarizes her accomplishments through the many hats she wore.

Those fortunate to have been taught by or to have listened to Dr. Sylvia Taylor Johnson's professional presentations at conferences and meetings know of her skill, talent, and preference in the use of metaphor to illustrate key points: The starter's pistol reports with a loud crack; the firstleg runners of the relay team bolt mightily from the starting line and run their hardest toward the point at which they will pass the baton to the second-leg runners, who will in turn do the same with respect to the third-leg runners, and so forth. Metaphorically, the editorship of The Journal of Negro Education (JNE) can be thought of in terms of passing the baton in a relay race, after hard work and accomplishments have occurred. The founder, Dr. Charles H. Thompson, and other early editors took off blazing from the starting line in 1932, laying down a legacy to be proud of and advancing the baton in the world of American education. The baton was then firmly passed on to capable hands that built on the hard work of those early runners, each time editors changed. Later, the pass finally reached The Journal's first woman at the helm, Dr. Faustine C. Jones-Wilson. In her very first official yearbook's JNE editorial comment, Dr. Sylvia Johnson (1994) remarked about following (i.e., receiving the baton from) the "creative tenure" of Dr. Jones-Wilson, and the predecessors who ran those early legs of the ongoing race.

With characteristic crystal clarity and advanced, sharply honed research skills, Dr. Sylvia T. Johnson was able to take full advantage of holding the position of Editor-in-Chief of The Journal of Negro Education from 1994 to 2001. She not only applied these abilities to ensuring the quality of articles published by The Journal during her tenure, but she also used the platform afforded by the "Editor's Comments" section to very effectively inform, educate, and sensitize readers to a number of important and absolutely critical issues and problems related to education, particularly those pertaining to the African American community and African Diaspora. The range of those issues, problems, and historic events included topics such as the 40th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas decision; the establishment of the Center for Research on the Education of Students Placed at Risk (CRESPAR); school reform and the contributions of Dr. Walter G. Daniel (JNE Editor-in-Chief from 1960 to 1972); educating in a violent society; parent involvement in education; Ebonics; the relationship of culture, assessment, and pedagogy in education; and affirmative action.

If someone examines the JNE Editor's Comments that were so eloquently, expertly, and thoughtfully presented over the course of Dr. Johnson's tenure as Editor-in-Chief, one would see from the very outset the profound respect she expressed for The Journal and her predecessors and her great sense of responsibility to the office. To anyone who knew her, a deep love for, loyalty to, and pride in her alma mater, Howard University, was clear. It was also immediately apparent as Dr. Johnson took the baton, that she brought with her a real sense of responsibility to the African American community, the broader American society and the global community, as is consistent with the mission of the University.

THE MANY FINE HATS OF DR. JOHNSON

In her editor's comments in the 64th yearbook issue of the JNE, Dr. Johnson (1994) cited the importance of the volume in the commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the historic Brown v. Board of Education (1954) decision, but then assumed the responsibility of clearly and succinctly describing and debunking the invalid, unsavory, and inflammatory work of several proponents of theories on inherited cognitive inferiority that was published at that same time. …

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