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Okoro Harold Johnson

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Information about Okoro Harold Johnson

Profile image of Okoro Harold Johnson

Profession

Category:
ArtMakers
Occupation(s):
Playwright
Stage Actor
Theater Director

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Red
Favorite Food:
Chicken
Favorite Time of Year:
Summer
Favorite Vacation Spot:
West Africa
Favorite Quote:
You Can't Take It With You.

Birthplace

Born:
5/25/1925
Birth Location:
Chicago, Illinois

Profession

Category:
ArtMakers
Occupation(s):
Playwright
Stage Actor
Theater Director

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Red
Favorite Food:
Chicken
Favorite Time of Year:
Summer
Favorite Vacation Spot:
West Africa
Favorite Quote:
You Can't Take It With You.

Birthplace

Born:
5/25/1925
Birth Location:
Chicago
See how Okoro Harold Johnson is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Okoro Harold Johnson, actor, director, and playwright was born May 25, 1925 in Chicago, Illinois. He attended Forestville Elementary and DuSable High School, but graduated from Eureka High School in Meridian, Mississippi. He briefly attended Tougaloo College, but ended up working as a waiter on the Grand Trunk Railroad. Later at Roosevelt University, Johnson became involved at the ground floor of the Chicago Black Arts Movement. Johnson earned a B. A. in Theater from Roosevelt University and an M.A. in Theater from Governor's State University.

Johnson is known for his down to earth approach with both acting and directing. He has exposed people from all walks of life to the magic of the theatre through his productions. Some of his plays include: S. C. L. C: Second Coming, Last Chance, The Regal Theater, Kintu and the Law of Love, and Strange Fruit. Johnson directed among other plays: A Candle in the Wind (featuring William Marshall), A Change is Gon' Come by Joe Turner, Purlie Victorious by Ossie Davis, Fats Waller: His Life and Times by Runako Jahi and Jazz Set by Ron Milner. Johnson produced a now legendary black soap opera, written by Richard Durham for public television called Bird Of An Iron Feather for Chicago's WTTW. His acting skills were featured on Broadway in Ron Milner's Checkmates, in a role that he created. Film credits include: The Spook Who Sat by the Door, The Wedding and A Raisin In The Sun.

Johnson served as Artistic Director at ETA Creative Arts Foundation for 17 years and was director of South Shore Cultural Center. Johnson has taught theatre at the college and community level. He is the recipient of the Paul Robeson Award from the African American Arts Alliance of Chicago.

Okoro Harold Johnson passed away on April 3, 2012.

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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Okoro Harold Johnson's interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Okoro Harold Johnson lists his favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Okoro Harold Johnson talks about his family
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Okoro Harold Johnson describes his parents
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Okoro Harold Johnson talks about his parents' home
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Okoro Harold Johnson talks about living with his grandmother as a child
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Okoro Harold Johnson describes his high school experiences
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Okoro Harold Johnson describes how his grandmother valued a college education
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Okoro Harold Johnson talks about his college years at Tougaloo College where he starred in his first play
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Okoro Harold Johnson remembers working on the railroad as a waiter while a student at Roosevelt College
  • Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Okoro Harold Johnson talks about his service in the U.S. Army
  • Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Okoro Harold Johnson describes his growing interest in theater while in law school
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Okoro Harold Johnson talks about learning to act at Drama Incorporated
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Okoro Harold Johnson talks about black theater groups
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Okoro Harold Johnson describes the beginning of ETA, which he formed with HistoryMaker Abena Joan Brown
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Okoro Harold Johnson continues to talk about the nascency of ETA
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Okoro Harold Johnson talks about Stateway Gardens where he worked as a drama instructor and acted in plays
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Okoro Harold Johnson describes how he became the first black director at Theater on the Lake
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Okoro Harold Johnson talks about ETA's early productions and the Regal Theater's revival, pt. 1
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Okoro Harold Johnson talks about ETA's early productions and the Regal Theater's revival, pt. 2
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Okoro Harold Johnson talks about his experience at WGBH in Boston, Massachusetts
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Okoro Harold Johnson talks about directing "Bird of the Iron Feather"
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Okoro Harold Johnson describes racism on the set of "Bird of the Iron Feather"
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Okoro Harold Johnson talks about "Bird of the Iron Feather"'s success
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Okoro Harold Johnson describes forcing radio and television stations in Chicago, Illinois to hire black personnel
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Okoro Harold Johnson talks about his return to theater and ETA's production of "A Candle in the Wind"
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Okoro Harold Johnson talks about "Kintu and the Law of Love", his adaptation of an African folk tale
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Okoro Harold Johnson describes his experience on Broadway in the play "Checkmates"
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Okoro Harold Johnson talks about working at Chicago State University
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Okoro Harold Johnson explains why he cast non-actors like Moms Mabley, LaDonna Tittle, Sherry Scott, and Light Henry Huff in the productions of "A Change is Gon' Come" and "Jazz-Set"
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Okoro Harold Johnson talks about the production of "A Change is Gon' Come"
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Okoro Harold Johnson talks about tensions with Bobby Womack during ETA's run of "A Change is Gon' Come"
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Okoro Harold Johnson talks about directing a musical revue for Harold Washington's mayoral campaign
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Okoro Harold Johnson talks about his play "S.C.L.C.: Second Coming Last Chance" and performs the prologue
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Okoro Harold Johnson recites two of his poems, "The First Blues", and "Chicago"
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Okoro Harold Johnson talks about how he would like to be remembered
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Okoro Harold Johnson reflects on his parents' attitude towards his accomplisments
  • Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Okoro Harold Johnson talks about The HistoryMakers project
  • Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Okoro Harold Johnson talks about the contemporary black arts scene in Chicago
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Okoro Johnson narrates his photographs, pt.1
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Okoro Johnson narrates his photographs, pt.2