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Colonel Stone Johnson

Colonel Stone Johnson was born on September 9, 1918, in Hayneville, Alabama, to Fannie and Colonel Johnson. Johnson’s family moved to Birmingham, Alabama, when he was a small child; there he attended Slater School, and graduated from Lincoln School in 1939. While in high school, Johnson began working on the weekends for the Bowden trucking company; after graduation, he continued there full-time. Johnson was then hired to work at the L & M Rail Road Company, where he became the first African American union representative; in this role he worked to equalize working conditions for African American employees, who were often discriminated against. Johnson remained employed by the L & M Rail Road Company for thirty-nine years.

In 1956, Johnson met Reverend Fred L. Shuttlesworth and became active in the Civil Rights Movement after civil rights leaders formed the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights (ACMHR) in response to Alabama state officials outlawing the NAACP for its supportive role in the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

After the bombing of Bethel Baptist Church and the parsonage where Shuttlesworth resided on Christmas Eve in 1958, Johnson became a part of a security detail for the ACMHR and worked to protect black leaders, their homes, and churches from Ku Klux Klan attacks. On one occasion, Johnson and an associate were instrumental in removing ignited dynamite from the Bethel Baptist Church, preventing further destruction and possible loss of life. In 1977, Johnson and one other witness testified against J.B Stoner, chairman of the National States Rights Party, the political arm of the Ku Klux Klan; Stoner was found guilty of conspiring to bomb the Bethel Baptist Church in 1955.

Johnson remained in Birmingham with Beatrice, his wife of over sixty-five years.

Colonel Johnson passed away on January 19, 2012.

Accession Number

A2007.108

Sex

Male

Interview Date

3/23/2007

Last Name

Johnson

Maker Category
Middle Name

Stone

Schools

Lincoln High School

Slater Elementary School

First Name

Colonel

Birth City, State, Country

Hayneville

HM ID

JOH29

Favorite Season

None

State

Alabama

Favorite Vacation Destination

Nigeria

Favorite Quote

Blessed By The Best.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Alabama

Birth Date

9/9/1918

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Birmingham

Country

United States

Favorite Food

None

Death Date

1/19/2012

Short Description

Civil rights activist and railroad worker Colonel Stone Johnson (1918 - 2012 ) worked as part of a security detail for the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights that was designed to protect important leaders and meeting places.

Employment

Louisville and Nashville Railroad

Favorite Color

None

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Colonel Stone Johnson's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Colonel Stone Johnson lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Colonel Stone Johnson describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Colonel Stone Johnson describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Colonel Stone Johnson remembers moving to Birmingham, Alabama

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Colonel Stone Johnson describes his father's education and occupations

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Colonel Stone Johnson remembers living in a white neighborhood in Birmingham, Alabama

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Colonel Stone Johnson recalls his early education

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Colonel Stone Johnson lists his siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Colonel Stone Johnson recalls his experiences of color discrimination

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Colonel Stone Johnson remembers the Great Depression

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Colonel Stone Johnson remembers his first job

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Colonel Stone Johnson remembers becoming a union representative

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Colonel Stone Johnson remembers John L. Lewis

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Colonel Stone Johnson remembers delivering newspapers for The Birmingham Post

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Colonel Stone Johnson describes the discriminatory conditions in his union

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Colonel Stone Johnson explains how he joined an all-white union

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Colonel Stone Johnson recalls his brief service in the U.S. Army

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Colonel Stone Johnson talks about his experiences of employment discrimination

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Colonel Stone Johnson describes segregation in Birmingham, Alabama

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Colonel Stone Johnson remembers joining the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Colonel Stone Johnson remembers the weekly civil rights meetings in Birmingham, Alabama

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Colonel Stone Johnson recalls the violence during the Civil Rights Movement in Birmingham, Alabama

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Colonel Stone Johnson remembers J.B. Stoner

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Colonel Stone Johnson remembers the bombing of Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth's home

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Colonel Stone Johnson remembers guarding the Bethel Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Colonel Stone Johnson remembers the arrest of Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth's children

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Colonel Stone Johnson remembers the attack on the Freedom Riders in Anniston, Alabama

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Colonel Stone Johnson talks about the bus boycott in Birmingham, Alabama

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Colonel Stone Johnson recalls Bull Connor's attack on Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Colonel Stone Johnson remembers escorting Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth from the hospital

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Colonel Stone Johnson talks about color discrimination within the black community

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Colonel Stone Johnson remembers A.G. Gaston

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Colonel Stone Johnson talks about his wife

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Colonel Stone Johnson remembers Bobby Cherry's trial

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Colonel Stone Johnson talks about the March on Washington, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Colonel Stone Johnson talks about the March on Washington, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Colonel Stone Johnson remembers the white response to Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Colonel Stone Johnson recalls the role of religion in the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Colonel Stone Johnson describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Colonel Stone Johnson remembers the Voting Rights Act of 1965

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Colonel Stone Johnson remembers his struggle for voting rights

Tape: 4 Story: 12 - Colonel Stone Johnson talks about his retirement

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Colonel Stone Johnson shares a message to future generations

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Colonel Stone Johnson recalls seeing J.B. Stoner at the Bethel Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Colonel Stone Johnson remembers testifying against J.B. Stoner

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Colonel Stone Johnson remembers his coworker, Ruby Davis

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Colonel Stone Johnson describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Colonel Stone Johnson remembers segregation in Anniston, Alabama

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Colonel Stone Johnson describes his advice to a neighbor

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Colonel Stone Johnson explains why he agreed to be interviewed

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Colonel Stone Johnson narrates his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$3

DAStory

4$10

DATitle
Colonel Stone Johnson remembers the bombing of Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth's home
Colonel Stone Johnson remembers escorting Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth from the hospital
Transcript
Let's go back to the bombing. That was the first bombing or the second bombing?$$That was the first bombing. They put the wor- Bull [Bull Connor] put the word out, we gonna bomb Shuttlesworth's [HistoryMaker Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth] house for his Christmas present, in 1958, Christmas Eve night. And they been saying things like that so much 'til they didn't pay it no mind. They put the bomb between a church [Bethel Baptist Church, Birmingham, Alabama] and the parsonage. They was that close together, just could walk between the two buildings. They didn't care how, whether your church and your house was a special occasion or not. Folks been taught so bad that they blowed that house up and you could hear it five or six miles. Guess what? Blowed it into splinters from the back to the center of the house up to where his bedroom was. Blowed the mattress out off the bed that Shuttlesworth was sleeping on, and his wife [Ruby Keeler Shuttlesworth]. But nobody got hurt but one person, just a little bit, a little girl. Her, her husband got the church that Shuttlesworth had for forty-something years in Cincinnati [Ohio], Reverend Bester [Harold Bester]. The back of that house went down into splinters. You could see the front, it looked all right. All the doors was so tight, you couldn't open nothing but the back door and it was blowed off the hinges. He had to stoop down to come out the back and they all come out. Shuttlesworth come out first and, as he was coming out, he met the assistant chief of police. He used to stay right down the street there. And he said, "Well Fred," say, "I guess you'll get out of town now, you see Mr. Bull gonna have you killed." He said, "No. You said if you was I, I'm not none of you," said, "God give me something to do, I got to do it." And the next day was Sunday, that was Saturday night, Christmas Eve, 1958, and he got out there on the church ground and preached the eleven o'clock sermon. Wasn't no lights in the church. All the lights fell down out the ceiling. Anything, all the fixtures in the church, but the church still standing. They got a brand new church. The federal government done give them the money, the grant, but they got to match it, and that's when we organized the watchmen of the church. We had to get a lot of them because they was afraid to stay out there by they selves.$And about 1:30 or 2:00, Reverend Shuttlesworth [HistoryMaker Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth] called me, said, "Johnson [HistoryMaker Colonel Stone Johnson], say go out to the parsonage and get me some clean clothes, I just got through talking to my wife [Ruby Keeler Shuttlesworth], I got to have dry clothes." And I did. I called my two buddies what rode with me. Went to Cartersville [Alabama] to the new parsonage and got a change of clothes, and he had left orders at the hospital [Holy Family Community Hospital, Birmingham, Alabama] not to let Shuttlesworth out. He put the order out. Aw he was a, he was a bugger, and I happened to know the family of this young lady. She was one of the Solomon [ph.] girls. And when we walked in the hospital, she dropped her head, never did look up no more, and we walked right by her, went on up to his room and he put his clothes, pulled off that little lighting gown he had on. We started back, she dropped her head again. She didn't have to lie, she didn't see nobody, and we come out and I took Fred to room number ten, the suite, to A.G. Gaston Motel [Birmingham, Alabama]. He said, "Johnson," say, "you been up all day and all night." Say, "Go home and get you some sleep." And I said, "Okay," I said, "but if you need me before day call me." And I walked on up to the room with him. Martin Luther King [Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.] was speaking and he said, "I don't know what we gonna do. I'm just a visitor here. Fred Shuttlesworth is the boss of this march." And said, "I guess we have to call the march off." (Laughter) Shuttlesworth said, "To hell you say, I'm here." And he said, "Let's rest a little while." And Martin Luther King went to smiling and laughing. He said, "How you get out this time of night?" (Points) He said, "The Lord open doors for you." And they didn't march until the next evening, but they marched. Shuttlesworth say, "I'm gonna march if nobody march but me." And he did. Now what you want (laughter) (simultaneous)?$$(Simultaneous) What about, you talked about the 16th Street Baptist Church [Birmingham, Alabama] and you said that you couldn't go up there, something you alluded to when we were off camera.