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Pembroke pastor named to national NAACP
Rev Johnson wife
The Rev. Francys Johnson with his wife, Dr. Meca Williams. - photo by Dave Williams
The Rev. Francys Johnson, pastor of Mount Moriah Baptist Church in Pembroke, was named Monday as the Southeast national regional director for the NAACP.
The position has been held in the past by such heralded civil rights activists as Medgar Evers, Earl Shinhoster and Ruby Hurley. The region is the largest within the NAACP and spans Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi and the Carolinas.
“It is the South, so it has been the source of many of the issues that the NAACP has been challenged with in order to make America live up to her promise and her full potential,” Johnson said. “So, from a historical perspective, it’s an enormous appointment.”
Johnson holds a Doctorate in Law from the University of Georgia and is a lecturer on race, law, and public policy.  He has served on the political science and criminal justice faculties at both Georgia Southern and Savannah State. He’s also directed the Georgia State Conference of the NAACP Legal Redress programs.
“If you go and hear him speak, you’d swear you were listening to Dr. Martin Luther King,” said Dave Williams, who works with Johnson in both the church and the NAACP. “He is an asset to this community and, at merely 27-years-old, he is a fantastic role model to our youth.”
Johnson said he is not intimidated by the big shoes he will be filling and he has formulated goals for his tenure guided by a search for answers to some of this era’s questions.
“I am less focused on the historical element because the NAACP in my opinion has rested too much on its laurels and has not really formulated some answers to the true typical questions of our time,” Johnson said. “Like what do we do with a group of people who are granted their citizenship rights, but at this point seem to be locked out from an economic standpoint? So, from a social achievement standpoint, we’ve become stagnant. So what do we do to answer those questions about failing schools? What do we do about stagnant growth in areas like Pembroke where a majority of black folks live?”
The appointment will give local issues a national voice, Williams said.
“(Johnson) truly has Pembroke in his heart. He feels there’s a lot of work to be done here in Pembroke and Bryan County, and I think he’s going to do some great things for this area and the entire region as well,” Williams said.
“Rev. Johnson is an energetic man and a fighter,” said Mount Moriah Chairman of the Deacon Board and Pembroke City Councilman Johnnie Miller. “He fights for jobs. He fights for quality education. He’s going to put us on the map in those categories. We’ll see some things change around here with him in that position.”
“Our problems in Pembroke aren’t isolated to Pembroke,” Johnson said. “There are communities all over the country that have been locked out of the boom of the 1990s and have suffered from the depression of the Bush administration and are really now just climbing out of that melee. Places like Pembroke are well-positioned because of growth in the surrounding areas, but other communities are not so fortunate.”
“I’m extremely excited to bring attention to a part of America that has been overlooked, and that’s rural America,” Johnson said. “That’s the heart and soul of America where there are people who are hard working and need some help in realizing their full potential. I hope to bring some attention to them in my appointment.”
Despite new demands, Johnson is planning to remain as Pastor of Mount Moriah. He cited other prominent black leaders who manage to successfully balance prominent leadership positions with pastoral positions.
“I must remain integrated to the grass roots in order to effectively do this job,” Johnson said. “You can’t get any more grass roots than Pembroke, Georgia.”
“He definitely puts his church family as a priority,” said Miller. “His work and his vision take him all over the country, but, no matter where he’s at, you can count on him coming back by 11 a.m. on Sunday morning where you’ll find him in the pulpit at Mt. Moriah in Pembroke. If he has to fly all night or rent a car, you can count on it.”
Johnson also said he will stand up for the rights of everyone in his region, regardless of color.
“We’ve got issues in our community that is going to require an NAACP that is not race-driven,” Johnson said. “I am not going to join in the race-bating politics that exist on the national scene with figures like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. I want to be a consensus builder. I want to be a statesman of the sort that we had when the NAACP was founded by white and black Americans who felt that America could do better. That’s what I hope to fashion myself after.”
Johnson’s predecessor, Rev. Charles White, is being promoted to National Field Operation Director.
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