Thursday, October 4, 2012


Dr. Johnson was a close friend of the Horace Mann League over the past 50 years or more.  Just recently, Carroll Johnson was awarded the "Outstanding Friend of Public Education" by the Horace Mann League.

Carroll Johnson and Carol Choye
Ken Bird and Carroll Johnson

JANUARY 16, 1913 – OCTOBER 1, 2012

Please join us to remember and celebrate the extraordinary life of Dr. Carroll F. Johnson

Saturday, October 20th
Plymouth Harbor Chapel
700 John Ringling Blvd
Sarasota, Florida

Light refreshments to follow

(The family welcomes you to share memories and thoughts of Carroll at the service)

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the following scholarships, important to Carroll:

 – Carroll F. Johnson Scholarship Fund
                                                                               Teachers College, Columbia University
                                                                               Office of Development
                                                                               Box 306, 525 W. 120th St.
                                                                               New York, NY 10027

Carroll F. Johnson Scholastic Achievement Dinner
                                                                             Lower Hudson Council of School Superintendents
                                                                             672A Heritage Hills
                                                                             Somers, NY 10589

Carroll F. Johnson, Schools Integrator, Dies at 99

Teachers College, Columbia University
Carroll F. Johnson created a busing plan for White Plains that was used as a model.
He had been weakened by a long battle with blood infections, his son, Walter, said in confirming the death.
Dr. Johnson’s commitment to equal educational opportunities for minorities took root in the Jim Crow South of 1941, his son said. At the time, Dr. Johnson had just received a master’s degree in education from the University of Georgia when he watched as Gov. Eugene Talmadge stacked its board of regents with allies to force the ouster of Walter Cocking, the dean of the education school.
The governor said Dr. Cocking needed to be removed because he planned to create an integrated demonstration school.
The firing drew national attention, and it was not far from his mind, his son said, when he went to Westchester County in 1954 to run the White Plains schools. The Supreme Court had just issued its Brown v. Board of Education decision, ending legal segregation in the public schools.
The White Plains system’s student body was about 20 percent black then, with black students largely concentrated in a few neighborhood schools because of housing patterns. Dr. Johnson saw this as de facto school segregation, and he tried to redress it through a number of remedies, including building schools with special amenities to attract both white and black children.
By 1964, however, he had decided that the effort was too piecemeal and that black and white students remained largely isolated from one another. He put together what he called the White Plains Racial Balance Plan, which essentially called for busing hundreds of children so that no school had less than 10 percent minority enrollment or more than 30 percent. He also closed one school that had been overwhelmingly black.
To ease the way in putting the plan into effect, he built alliances with PTA leaders and the editor of the local newspaper. “He was a Southerner and kept his drawl, and I don’t think people saw him coming,” his son said.
The busing plan fell into place with remarkably little resistance. Four years later, the schools could report a rise in test scores for black students, no decline in white scores and no significant white exodus out of the school system.
Dr. Johnson said the key to the program’s success was that the busing went essentially one way: black children being transferred to white schools.
“Our residents wish, for the most part, to provide equal opportunity for all children — even at some inconvenience to themselves,” Dr. Johnson wrote in 1968 in evaluating the program. “But I do not believe that the majority of white parents would willingly have sent their own youngsters into center city schools.”
Dr. Johnson left White Plains in 1969 for Columbia University to become a professor of education administration and director of the Institute of Field Studies at Teachers College. In announcing his arrival, TC Week, a Teachers College publication, wrote that Dr. Johnson’s racial desegregation plan “became a model for other school systems in their desegregation efforts.”
In 1988, the White Plains system instituted a new way to bring racial balance to its student population, letting parents select among the schools in the district, with busing provided to students who live at a distance from the ones they choose.
Carroll Frye Johnson was born in Atlanta to Paul and Mattie Carroll Johnson on Jan. 16, 1913. His father died 18 months later, leaving Ms. Johnson to raise her son on her parents’ farm in Wildwood, Ga. Mr. Johnson received a partial scholarship to attend the University of Chattanooga (now the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga). He graduated in 1935.
Six years later, after he got his master’s degree in Georgia, he joined the Navy with the outbreak of World War II. An able swimmer with educational credentials, he was assigned to train recruits to swim under burning fuel. He was discharged in 1945 and went on to earn his doctorate in education from Columbia in 1950.
While working for Columbia, he was a consultant on roughly 150 searches for superintendents around the country, allowing him to further his commitment to moving more women and minorities into positions of power. “He was a champion for school integration, raising academic standards,” said Charles Fowler, who is executive secretary of Suburban School Superintendents, a national association. And, he added, “for significantly broadening the base of students studying to lead America’s schools.”
In addition to his son, Dr. Johnson is survived by his wife, Susan Kaye Johnson; a daughter, Katherine Sussman; a stepdaughter, Gillian Kaye; four grandchildren; a stepgrandchild; and two great-grandchildren.
Dr. Johnson kept a stack of newspaper clippings and letters from his fraught time in White Plains, according to an article about him published on a University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Web site. He treasured one thank-you note in particular, from Dr. Errold D. Collymore, a black dentist.
“When you came to White Plains I was very apprehensive,” Dr. Collymore wrote, as quoted by the Web site. “I openly expressed my doubts and anxiety about a superintendent of schools for White Plains who came from Georgia.”
But, he added: “My early fears were unfounded and unfair. I have been greatly impressed with your fairness, your objectivity, your considerable administrative competence and your dignity and unmistakable humanity.”

1 comment:

  1. Dear Kate, Walter and families -

    Your wonderful dad was my mentor and I always loved him. I remember first meeting him when I was about 11 or 12 years old and was immediately impressed by him. My grandfather was a good friend of his and we went to many meetings and functions at the Rotary Club, the YMCA, the Urban League, as well as some Saturday lunch dates. We also attended the ceremony when he was first appointed Superintendent of Schools and I stayed in touch with him until about 25 years ago (shame on me). He even came to my granddad's funeral and I will forever remember his kindness, gentle nature and comforting spirit.

    I remember him being at WPHS on different occasions and my surprise to learn that he was your Dad. That gave birth to my jealous streak - LOL!!! I always envied you having such a G-d for a father!!!!!!!! I think my love for him is one of the reasons I always liked you so much.

    For some unknown reason (haha), he also took a liking to me and taught me many invaluable lessons over the years, both personal and professional. He was also instrumental in my choice to further my education and attend college. I was very reluctant to leave home and my mother as my grandfather and Dad had just passed away in 1965. Your Dad ("Dr. Carroll" as I lovingly called him) convinced me to never let anything keep me from pursuing my dreams and I have always been grateful that I listened to him and that he took the time to care about my direction in life.

    I always thought he was so strikingly handsome (and thought if not for skin color he and my grandaddy could have been twins :-) I can still hear his voice and wit ringing in my ears and passed some of his wisdom on to my daughters.  He never forgot me and was a true blessing and a Godsend to a young, frightened, impressionable girl. Dr. Carroll and his legacy will remain in my heart for life!!!! Thanx for unknowingly sharing him with me!!!!!! 

    Again, my condolences to you and your family. May he rest in peace!

    One Love - One Heart, Trish

    (Patricia Ann Carter - Harlem, NY)


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