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Bennett Johnson

Book publishing executive Bennett J. Johnson was born in 1929 in Chicago, Illinois. At the age of two his mother, Kathryn Burnice Johnson, moved to Evanston where he lived with his two sisters and five cousins. After graduating from Evanston Township High School in 1946, Johnson attended Paine College in Augusta, Georgia for three semesters. In 1948 he went to Roosevelt University in Chicago, Illinois where he became close friends with Harold Washington, Frank London Brown and Gus Savage. After lengthy illness he enrolled in the University of California at Los Angeles in 1953, where he graduated with his B.A. degree in English and a minor in science in 1955 and his M.A. degree in English and a concentration in education in 1956. When he returned to Chicago, Illinois and began working alongside such Chicago greats as Washington, Frank Brown, Gus Savage, Richard Durham, Herman C. Gilbert and Dempsey Travis on crucial issues such as political action, social equality and economic justice.

While at Roosevelt College Johnson participated in organizing a sit-in at a restaurant across the street from Roosevelt that refused to serve Harold Washington and forced the hiring of the first Black sales clerk on State Street. In 1966 he acted as the primary liaison for the historic meeting between Elijah Muhammad and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Johnson, Frank L. Brown, and Herman C. Gilbert began the independent publishing house, Path Press, Inc. in 1961. Path Press, Inc. was the first Black-owned book publishing company in the United States. The company published books from 1969 to 1972, and the again from 1982 to 2001. In 2001, Johnson temporarily closed Path Press to join Haki R. Madhubuti at Third World Press.

Bennett Johnson was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on August 19, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.241

Sex

Male

Interview Date

8/22/2013 |and| 8/24/2013

Last Name

Johnson

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Jones

Schools

Real Estate Institute of Chicago

University of California, Los Angeles

Roosevelt University

Paine College

Evanston Township High School

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Bennett

Birth City, State, Country

Chicago

HM ID

JOH45

Favorite Season

All Seasons

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

No Favorite Vacation Spot

Favorite Quote

Without struggle, there is no progress.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

5/15/1929

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

USA

Favorite Food

All Foods

Short Description

Book publishing executive Bennett Johnson (1929 - ) founded the publishing house, Path Press, which produced ten books over a twenty-four year period, and has been the vice president of Third World Press since 2001.

Employment

Republic of Uganda

Third World Press

Evanston Sentinel

UCI Group, Inc.

Path Press, Inc.

State of Illinois Department of Human Resources

Merit Trust

United States Department of Commerce

Talent Assistance Program

United States Department of Defense

Illinois State Employment Service

Favorite Color

Green