Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2005
William A. Johnson Jr.
City of Rochester, New York
Why We Celebrate Martin Luther King Day
In 1993, William A. Johnson Jr. was elected the 64th Mayor of Rochester, receiving more than 72 percent of the votes in his first run for political office and becoming one of the few African-Americans in the nation to lead a predominantly white city.
In 1997, Johnson was re-elected without opposition. In 2001, he was re-elected to a third term with more than 78 percent of the vote and announced during the campaign that he would not seek a fourth term.
Prior to his election, Johnson served 21 years as president and chief executive officer of the Urban League of Rochester. He developed and oversaw numerous innovative programs in education, youth development, family services, employment training and housing development.
Before moving to Rochester in 1972, Johnson served as deputy executive director of the Flint, Michigan Urban League, director of the National Urban League Voter Registration Project and tenured instructor of political science at Mott Community College.
Johnson recognizes the devastating effects of disinvestment on urban areas and is an outspoken advocate of Smart Growth policies and an equally outspoken critic of suburban sprawl. He writes widely on these subjects and lectures at universities and professional associations several times a year. The emphasis of Johnson’s work is on getting ordinary citizens to understand how public policy regarding land use and zoning materially affects their lives.
A trustee of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, Johnson serves as chair of the Smart Growth and Regionalism Task Force. He is a member of the Executive Committee of the New York Conference of Mayors, chair of the Resolutions Committee of the National Conference of Black Mayors and board chair of Partners for Livable Communities.
Johnson holds a bachelor’s and a master’s degree from Howard University as well as three honorary degrees. He was Minett Professor at Rochester Institute of Technology.
A trained pianist and organist, Johnson has been a church musician for more than 50 years.