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The Honorable Jeh C. Johnson

Cabinet officer and lawyer Jeh C. Johnson was born on September 11, 1957 in New York City to Norma Edelin and Jeh Vincent Johnson. He graduated from Roy C. Ketcham High School in Wappingers Falls, New York in 1975. He then received his B.A. degree from Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia in 1979, and his J.D. degree from Columbia Law School in New York City in 1982.

In 1982, Johnson was hired at the law firm of Sullivan & Cromwell, and later joined the law firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP in 1984 as an associate. From 1989 to 1991, Johnson served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of New York. He subsequently became the first African American partner at Paul Weiss. In 1998, Johnson was appointed by President Bill Clinton to serve as general counsel of the U.S. Department of the Air Force until 2001, when he returned to Paul, Weiss. Johnson was later appointed by President Barack Obama to serve as general counsel for the U.S. Department of Defense in 2009. In 2012, Johnson returned to private law practice. The following year, Johnson was nominated by President Obama as Secretary of Homeland Security and served until 2017. He then rejoined the law firm of Paul Weiss as partner.

Johnson has served as chairman of the New York City Bar’s Judiciary Committee and was elected as a fellow by the American College of Trial Lawyers in 2004. He has also served as special counsel to John Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign, on the board of directors for Lockheed Martin, the Council on Foreign Relations, and the Center for a New American Security. In 2008, Johnson was a delegate for the Democratic National Convention. He has also served as a non-resident senior fellow for the Harvard Kennedy School of Business and as a trustee for Adelphi University.

In 2017, Johnson was named Cyber Security and Data Privacy Trailblazer by the National Law Journal and was honored with the Anti-Defamation League’s Gorowitz Institute Service Award. He also received the Theodore Roosevelt Leadership Award, the NYSBA Pioneer Award, John J. McCloy Award, and the Ronald Reagan Peace Through Strength Award. In 2018, Johnson was listed among Savoy magazine’s Most Influential Black Lawyers; and, in 2019, he received Columbia’s University’s Annual Black Alumni Council Heritage Award. He also has ten honorary degrees.

Jeh C. Johnson was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April 9, 2019.

Accession Number

A2019.027

Sex

Male

Interview Date

4/8/2019

4/8/2019 |and| 9/18/2019

Last Name

Johnson

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

C

Schools

Columbia Law School

Morehouse College

P.S. 143 Louis Armstrong School

Poughkeepsie Day School

Sheafe Road Elementary School

Oak Grove Elementary School

Wappinger Falls Junior High School

Roy C. Ketcham High School

First Name

Jeh

Birth City, State, Country

New York

HM ID

JOH55

Favorite Season

Late October

State

New York

Favorite Vacation Destination

Tuscany

Favorite Quote

No Man Can Be Justly Judged Unless You Have Seen The World Through His Eyes

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

9/11/1957

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Favorite Food

Veal Saltimbocca

Short Description

Cabinet officer and lawyer Jeh C. Johnson (1957 - ) was the first African American partner at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP before serving as general counsel of the Department of the Air Force, general counsel for the Department of Defense, and U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security.

Employment

Department of Homeland Security

Department of Defense

Department of the Air Force

Southern District of New York

Sullivan & Cromwell

Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP

Favorite Color

Orange

George Campbell, Jr.

College president, nonprofit chief executive and physicist Dr. George Campbell, Jr. was born on December 2, 1945 in Richmond, Virginia to Lillian and George Campbell. Campbell graduated with his B.S. degree in physics in 1968 from Drexel University, where he was a Guggenheim Scholar. Campbell went on to study at Syracuse University, where he received his Ph.D. degree in theoretical physics and began working in academic positions at Syracuse University and later at Nkumbi International College in Zambia. Here, he taught physics and conducted research.

Soon thereafter, Campbell left to take a position at AT&T Bell Laboratories, where he would stay for the next twelve years, occupying various research and design and management positions. During his time at Bell Labs, Campbell helped develop the third generation of telecommunication satellites and served as a United States delegate to the International Telecommunications Union. After his tenure at Bell Labs, Campbell became president and CEO of the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering (NACME), a nonprofit organization designed to open doors of opportunity for young people interested in the field of engineering. Under Campbell's leadership, NACME's public funding nearly tripled and the organization was recognized with a U.S. Presidential Award for Excellence. In July 2000, Oxford University Press published "Access Denied: Race, Ethnicity and Scientific Enterprise," which Dr. Campbell co-edited.

On July 1, 2000, Campbell returned to academia when he became the first African American president of Cooper Union, a private university in New York City.

The recipient of numerous awards and honors, Campbell and his wife, Dr. Mary Schmidt Campbell, the Dean of New York University's Tisch School of Arts, raised three sons, the eldest of whom, Garikai, is a professor of Mathematics and Acting Dean of Students at Swarthmore College.

George Campbell Jr. was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on May 17, 2001.

Accession Number

A2001.009

Sex

Male

Archival Photo 1
Interview Date

5/17/2001

Last Name

Campbell

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Occupation
Schools

Central High School

Drexel University

Yale University

Syracuse University

Search Occupation Category
Archival Photo 2
First Name

George

Birth City, State, Country

Richmond

HM ID

CAM01

Favorite Season

All Seasons

Sponsor

National Science Foundation

State

Virginia

Favorite Vacation Destination

Skiing, Islands

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Georgia

Birth Date

12/2/1945

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Atlanta

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Seafood

Short Description

Physicist George Campbell, Jr. (1945 - ) was President of Cooper Union, one of the nation's oldest institutions of higher learning. In 1977, Campbell earned a Ph.D. in theoretical physics and then worked for Bell Laboratories for twelve years. Later Dr. Campbell became president and CEO of the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering.

Employment

Nkimbi College

Syracuse University

Bell Laboratories

NACME, Inc.

Cooper Union

Main Sponsor
Main Sponsor URL
Favorite Color

All Colors

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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of George Campbell's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - George Campbell lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - George Campbell shares his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - George Campbell remembers his grandfather

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - George Campbell recalls his mother's life in New York City and Philadelphia

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - George Campbell describes his father

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - George Campbell considers his grandfather's skills

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - George Campbell shares his earliest childhood memories

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - George Campbell describes how he lived in Philadelphia, New York City, and Virginia as a child

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - George Campbell discusses his childhood household

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - George Campbell details the schools he attended

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - George Campbell recalls the life of his mother as a single parent

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - George Campbell considers the values of the church and its influence in his early life

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - George Campbell advises parents to remain involved in their children's education

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - George Campbell recalls being exposed to science at Central High School in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - George Campbell discusses his enrollment at Central High School in Philadelphia

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - George Campbell reflects on the social climate of Central High School in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - George Campbell discusses his interests in art

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - George Campbell describes his college application process

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - George Campbell describes his science and work opportunities while attending Drexel University

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - George Campbell recalls meeting his wife

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - George Campbell describes his father-in-law, Harvey Schmidt

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - George Campbell remembers being drafted for the Vietnam War

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - George Campbell describes his philosophy of civil rights on an international scale

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - George Campbell remembers his family's feelings about his trip to Zambia

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - George Campbell considers American icons in Zambian culture

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - George Campbell compares differences in child-rearing in the United States and Zambia

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - George Campbell describes the teaching experience in Zambia

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - George Campbell remembers returning to the United States from his trip to Zambia

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - George Campbell describes how he learned of the job opportunity in Zambia

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - George Campbell recalls pursuing graduate studies at Syracuse University

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - George Campbell describes his graduate dissertation

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - George Campbell describes his and his wife's career opportunities following graduate school

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - George Campbell describes his work at Bell Laboratories

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - George Campbell describes other aerospace-based companies and his work-travel for Bell Laboratories

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - George Campbell describes international efforts in pursuing new technology

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - George Campbell describes the African American presence at Bell Laboratories, Part 1

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - George Campbell describes the African American support networks at Bell Laboratories

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - George Campbell describes the atmosphere of Bell Laboratories

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - George Campbell recalls why he left Bell Laboratories to lead NACME, Part 1

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - George Campbell recalls why he left Bell Laboratories to lead NACME, Part 2

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - George Campbell discusses the conditions of NACME at the time of his arrival at the company in 1990

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - George Campbell describes the success of NACME's Engineering Vanguard Program, part 1

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - George Campbell describes the success of NACME's Engineering Vanguard Program, part 2

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - George Campbell describes the success of NACME's Engineering Vanguard Program, part 3

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - George Campbell shares his perspective on unfair aptitude tests

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - George Campbell describes NACME's research in underrepresented populations in the education system

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - George Campbell explains his leadership philosophy and his decision to leave NACME

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - George Campbell shares the history of Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - George Campbell discusses Cooper Union's role as a full-scholarship based institution

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - George Campbell outlines his goals for his tenure as president of Cooper Union

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - George Campbell discusses Cooper Union's competition as an institution of higher education

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - George Campbell describes the perspectives of his family members

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - George Campbell shares his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - George Campbell describes his wife's successes

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - George Campbell considers his legacy

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$5

DAStory

9$3

DATitle
George Campbell describes the African American support networks at Bell Laboratories
George Campbell recalls why he left Bell Laboratories to lead NACME, Part 2
Transcript
But on the other hand, there was a community of African American scientists that you could have lunch with and get together periodically [at Bell Laboratories, Murray Hill, New Jersey]. We had, we established in the early 80s [1980s] something called the Black Technical Managers Group at Bell Labs, not a group it was just Black Technical Managers. It was an organization where we got all the black technical managers, you know, scientist and engineering managers together. It was about fifteen of us when that first was formed. When I left Bell Labs [1989] it was like ninety people and we used to meet. We used to have serious meetings. We met for, you know after a couple of years we were meeting for three days, had three day meetings in which we would cover a spectrum of things, you know issues of race and hiring and promotions. We'd talk about technical issues, have you know major scientific presentations about people who were, you know who were part of the group and we would always have a session where we invited some key executives from AT&T or Bell Labs to talk to them seriously about what we thought were reasonable things that they could do to improve the environment, to improve the hiring, improve the promotions. And you know they were always well thought out, rational presentations that would be hard to say no to. I mean, you know, we had a meeting in Columbus, Ohio which had no black managers and, you know, they--I think they only had one black person who was in, you know, in the professional scientific ranks and we showed them the number of graduates from Ohio State University [Columbus, Ohio], the number of graduates from area places and said you know we would like to see a five year plan where you would hire roughly this many people. And it was not an unreasonable "demand". I mean we were people who had just as much stake in the company as anybody else. We were serious employees. We had serious management responsibilities. We had stock in the company. We wanted to see the company succeed. We weren't about tearing the company down. We were about saying, how can we improve this company so that we can take advantage of the talent pool that's out there and make sure that we were getting the best scientific, you know, skill that's available. And it was an enormously valuable I think entity to the company and certainly valuable to us as individuals. I mean it was very you know--after dealing with frankly you know the, a lot of the tensions and stresses around dealing with people, all people from other ethnic groups all the time, there was a need periodically to get together with people who had the same kinds of issues, the same problems that they were struggling against and also who were you know kinsmen in the scientific arena. So--and to share and you know purge and to commiserate and all of those things. So I think it was a valuable, tremendous benefit to the company and they saw it. The company supported that activity you know and gave us the three days to do it and paid for the trips and all the rest. And so, I think it was and probably is still valuable. I think the organization still exists.$And this NACME [National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering] job came along. Turns out that [Morris] "Morry" Tanenbaum who was a vice president--no chairman, he was the vice chairman of AT&T, number two guy at AT&T, who had started his career at Bell Labs and was a very prominent physicist and inventor of the LED [Light-Emitting Diode] and so on and had moved up to the number two position of the company, was on the Board of Directors of NACME, the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering. And the president of NACME [Richard F. Neblett] was retiring and so he sent a note around saying, asking you know if we knew anybody who might be interested in this NACME job. And I didn't know much about NACME cause I was a physicist and this was mostly engineering although science was a little bit a part of what they did. And so I looked at it, it looked like a very intriguing announcement. And so I didn't get on the web [Internet] 'cause we didn't have it then. I called up and asked them to send me some materials about NACME and they did, annual report, this and that, very interesting organization. They're doing it all wrong but they have the right idea. And so I mean the idea about NACME it was, NACME was an organization that had been created under the auspices of the National Academy of Engineering in the early 1970s to provide access and opportunities for minorities, African Americans, Latinos and American Indians to engineering, primarily engineering. And you know in the, in the--in 1974 when it was formed, less than 1 percent of the work force in this country were African Americans, Latinos and American Indians. And you know they were significantly larger part of the population and clearly, you know, there is historical factors that limited access, financial factors and so on. And you know this was something that I had been involved with all along. At Bell Labs I was involved in the scholarship programs that they had there, involved in outreach programs to encourage minority kids, African Americans to think about scientific careers. And so it looked like a very interesting thing to be doing plus it was an opportunity to run a company today. And even though the company it was only a $4 million company, you know, and I was, I already had a much bigger budget than that at Bell Labs and so it would have been a step down in that sense. But on the other hand it would have been running a whole company all by yourself and that was very exciting to me as a possibility. And it had an incredible cadre of support. I mean Bell Lab--I mean NACME as I said had been created under the auspices of the National Academy of Engineering, the most prestigious, you know, professional organization in the country and it was supported by an enormous array of Fortune 100 companies. And the Board of Directors were mostly CEOs of those kinds of companies. The president of IBM [International Business Machines] was on the board, the chairman of DuPont [E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company], the chairman of Amoco [Corporation], the vice chairman of AT&T [Inc.], the chairman of Goodyear [Tire and Rubber Company]. You know so it was a really fascinating board and the opportunity to run a company and to run a company and interface with people at this level was a very exciting possibility for me. And then I decided that I was going to apply for the job and my executive vice president [of Bell Laboratories] called me and he said look, you know, we've got a lot invested in you and you're on this leadership continuity program, we don't want to lose you. And what can we do to make life happier for you? And by then I had made up my mind that if I got this job I was going to do it. And I did get the job and so he offered me the opportunity to take a leave of absence 'cause I would get tired of running this little company after a while and want to come back. I said okay I'll take the leave. And so I did, I took the leave of absence and I came to NACME and I did some--and that you know that's why I left.