Wednesday January 12, 2011
Presentation during King “Keepers of the Dream” Concert Jan. 16
Mayor Greg Fischer today announced that Charlie Johnson is the 2011 recipient of Louisville Metro’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Freedom Award. Johnson is an entrepreneur and businessman who built one of the largest minority-owned companies in the nation.
Fischer will present the award Sunday, January 16, during the free “Keepers of the Dream” concert dedicated to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., 5 p.m. at the Kentucky Center’s Bomhard Theater, 501 W. Main St.
The concert and arts celebration is presented by ArtsReach and will feature musical and theatrical presentations by the Jubilee Singers, Keith McGill, Louisville Central Community Center, ArtsReach Violin and Dance Studios, River City Drum Corps, Louisville Lion Dance Team, Keith Cook, Louisville Central Community Center, Str8 Legit, RCDC Mentoring Music Production Group, Louisville Youth Choir, O’Dell Henderson, Bates Memorial Choir and the Shelby County High School Chamber Singers.
“As a businessman, entrepreneur and someone who has opened the doors of opportunity for countless people in Louisville, Charlie Johnson is richly deserving of this award,” Fischer said. “Charlie is large in stature and impact, but works quietly to touch lives and make Louisville a much better city.”
“I am honored to be chosen for this award and am grateful that Mayor Fischer will be giving this honor to me in his first year,” Johnson said. “I have always tried to give back to my community and be an example of what Dr. King gave up his life for.”
Johnson is the CEO of Immanuel Realty, LLC, where he is working with other groups for rehabilitation of Louisville’s inner-city central area. He operates several businesses, including GENESIS Beauty Salon and Barber Shop and GENESIS Beauty Supply.
A former pro football player and Ford Motor Co. employee, Johnson started and operated several trucking firms including Active Transportation and C.W. Johnson Xpress. At one time, Active Transportation had revenues of more than $500 million and was one of the Top 100 Black-owned companies in the nation.
Johnson has been a strong supporter of education on many fronts. He chaired the Chestnut Street YMCA Black Achievers program which provided $1.2 million for scholarships. He donated $100,000 to start a scholarship fund at Spalding University for at-risk inner city males, and founded and funded $300,000 of a $500,000 endowed scholarship for Louisville youth to attend Benedict College in Columbia, South Carolina. He also provided the University of Louisville with $1 million to endow a chair in Logistics and Distribution for minority students.
Johnson was born in Columbus, Georgia, where he was an outstanding football player. He graduated in 1962 and received numerous scholarship offers and chose the University of Louisville where he was all conference player for three years. He played professionally for both the San Francisco 49’ers and Baltimore Colts. In 1989, he was inducted into the University of Louisville Athletic Hall of Fame. He was the first African American graduate of U of L to be appointed by the governor to the University Board of Trustees.
He has also served on numerous boards and foundations including PNC Bank, Benedict College, Spalding University, Lincoln Heritage Council Boy Scouts of America, Muhammad Ali Center, African-American Venture Capital Fund, LLC, Kentuckiana Minority Supplier Development Council and the Louisville Urban League. In addition, Johnson serves on the Kentucky Public Transportation Infrastructure Authority.
Johnson holds a Doctorate of Law from Benedict College, a Doctorate of Humane Letters from Wilberforce University, a Doctorate of Civil Law from Simmons University and a Doctor of Law from Spalding University.
Norton Healthcare is the presenting sponsor of the Freedom Award. This year’s award is a blown glass design created by Ché Rhodes, Associate Professor, Head of Glass, University of Louisville Hite Art Institute.
“It is both a privilege and an honor to be associated with a program that calls attention to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s contributions to society and his legacy that lives on through individuals like Charlie Johnson,” said Timothy E. Findley, Ed.D., System Director, Organizational Development and Inclusion, Norton Healthcare. “His impact on our community and the impact that other Freedom Award winners have had on our community will live on for years to come and will prompt us to make ongoing changes for the better.”
The Freedom Award, first presented in 1987, recognizes citizens that have dedicated their lives to promoting justice, peace, freedom, non-violence, racial equality and civic activism. Previous winners include Merv Aubespin, Dr. Bernard Minnis, Ben Richmond, Raoul Cunningham, Georgia Davis Powers, Ed Hamilton, Lyman T. Johnson, Beverly Watts, Sam Watkins and Deborah Todd.
If you go
“Keepers of the Dream” A Community Arts Celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Vision.
Sunday, January 16, 5 p.m.
Kentucky Center, Bomhard Theater, 501 W. Main St.
Admission is free, no tickets required. Arrive early for the best seats.
The celebration is presented by ArtsReach and will feature musical and theatrical presentations by the Jubilee Singers, Keith McGill, Louisville Central Community Center, ArtsReach Violin and Dance Studios, River City Drum Corps, Louisville Lion Dance Team, Keith Cook, Louisville Central Community Center, Str8 Legit, RCDC Mentoring Music Production Group, Louisville Youth Choir, O’Dell Henderson, Bates Memorial Choir and the Shelby County High School Chamber Singers.