Derrick Johnson, NAACP president and CEO

April 05, 2022

NAACP president and CEO Derrick Johnson will speak at SIU April 11

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. — Derrick Johnson, president and CEO of the NAACP since 2017, will speak at Southern Illinois University Carbondale on April 11. Everyone is welcome.

Johnson will discuss “Leading the Fight for Justice, Equity and Equality” from 3 to 4 p.m. in the Student Center Ballrooms. A meet and greet will follow from 4 to 5 p.m. There is no cost to attend.

“It is truly monumental to have Mr. Derrick Johnson visit SIU and the Carbondale community,” said LaShonda M. Stewart, director of the Chancellor’s Scholars Program, which is coordinating the event. Stewart and Johnson were classmates at Tougaloo College in Jackson, Mississippi. “His visit is highly significant because he could have visited any other university, but he chose to visit us. It will be a wonderful occasion to highlight and reinforce SIU’s commitment to antiracism, diversity, equity and inclusion.”

Lifelong commitment to advocacy

Johnson’s commitment to equality and social justice is long-standing. He formerly served as vice chairman of the NAACP National Board of Directors and state president of the Mississippi State Conference NAACP and has long been a member and leader of the organization.

A native of Detroit, he attended Tougaloo College in Jackson, Mississippi, and received his law degree from the South Texas College of Law in Houston. He has served as a guest lecturer at Harvard Law School and as adjunct professor at Tougaloo College.

A veteran activist, he has dedicated his life to defending the rights of other people. While state president of the Mississippi NAACP, Johnson led important voting rights and equitable education campaigns and successfully managed two bond referendum campaigns in Jackson that brought in $150 million for school building improvements and $65 million toward construction of a new convention center.

Throughout his career, he has advocated for affordable health insurance options, expanded Medicaid eligibility and an investment in community-based health care infrastructure through strategically located community health centers. As national NAACP president, he has guided the organization in re-envisioning, and it has been active in a variety of campaigns and initiatives, including the 2018 Log Out Facebook campaign in response to reports of Russian hackers targeting African Americans, the Jamestown Partnership recognizing the 400th year since enslaved Africans arrived in America, and the 2020 We Are Done Dying campaign to expose inequities in the American health care system. He has worked to elevate the visibility and influence of the NAACP in general, and during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has hit people of color particularly hard.

“We are proud to welcome a guest of Derrick Johnson’s caliber to SIU and look forward to hearing his inspirational words,” said Paul Frazier, vice chancellor for diversity, equity and inclusion. “The world is such a contentious and fractured place, but at SIU, as we celebrate more than 150 years of success and diversity and imagine and work toward an even better future, one of the strategic pillars we will build on is diversity, equity and inclusion. Who better to give us valuable insights than Mr. Johnson?”

For more information

Sponsors for Johnson’s visit to campus include Chancellor’s Scholars Program; the Office of the Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs; Office of the Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion; SIU School of Law; Student Affairs; and the following colleges: Health and Human Sciences; Business and Analytics; Liberal Arts; Arts and Media; Engineering, Computing, Technology and Mathematics; and Agricultural, Life and Physical Sciences. Other SIU sponsors are the Office of the Vice President for Antiracism, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and Chief Diversity Officer; Paul Simon Public Policy Institute; School of Education; Library Affairs; School of History and Philosophy; Master of Public Administration program; School of Anthropology, Political Science and Sociology; School of Africana and Multicultural Studies; MEDPREP Program; SIU School of Medicine; Graduate School; Black Resource Center and University Honors Program. In addition, support comes from the city of Carbondale, and the Carbondale Branch of the NAACP along with the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc.-Gamma Kappa Omega Chapter and the Carbondale Public Library.

Johnson will also participate in the Phi Kappa Phi honor society induction ceremony and reception later the evening of April 11 at Morris Library.

For additional details about Johnson’s visit, contact the Chancellor’s Scholars Program at 618-453-4628 or or the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at or 618-453-1186.