BALTIMORE HISTORY BEING LOST: Rev. Dr. Harvey Johnson by Rev. Al Hathaway, Pastor, Union Baptist Church
His endeavors preceded the Civil Rights movement and gave it impetus. Too many of Baltimore's leading citizens who had the honor of a school building named for them are being lost because of school closings and restructuring. Such is the case with the closing of the Diggs-Johnson Middle School. Once there was a Harvey Johnson Middle School which was closed but a portion of Dr. Johnson's name was retained by merging it with what is now known as Diggs-Johnson Middle School.
As if that does not add insult to injury, we are now faced with the name of Johnson being totally eliminated from a Baltimore City Public School Building. This is a shame and should evoke an outcry from the community. But alas, our community doesn't know its history; as a result, those historical figures who contributed to improving the quality of life for all citizens and who previous generations honored them by naming buildings for them, are now being lost because we have lost the will to fight for our historical legacy.
Maybe the day-to-day fight for survival is overwhelming us. Maybe we just don't know the bridges that brought us over. Can one be faulted for not knowing? That is why education is more than being trained to take a test. The purpose of education is for us to understanding who we are and whose we are and then, being affirmed that our God-given gifts and talents can be molded into a productive citizenry in our society.
That's what we are losing. We are losing generation of people who are living and walking through a community and they don't know where they are: Living in a land of giants and thinking that they are grasshoppers. So tragic and so true!
Well, some of us will never forget the contributions of The Rev. Dr. Harvey Johnson, who championed the investment in public schools for Negroes. His efforts led to the building of one of the first public high schools for Negroes built in America, Frederick Douglass Senior High School in West Baltimore.
His efforts shaped the legal strategy used by the NAACP and Thurgood Marshall and all the succeeding lawyers who press the courts for redress in the liberation struggle. Rev. Dr. Harvey Johnson was indeed a giant! And our testimony to his legacy is that we are permitted his name to be lost from a public school building for the sake of supporting a charter school. What a shame! Our political, community and even religious leadership of today is asleep at the wheel.