Lloyd Johnson


By |2021-03-21T21:43:58+00:00January 31st, 2021|introduction, Lloyd Johnson|

To Dad and Alijah  * If you are standing out in a crowd it is only because you are standing on the shoulders of others.  –Desmond Tutu     * I’m in the sunset of a pretty good life, and despite some mistakes, I’m in a good place.   I’m blessed with a loving wife, a wonderful daughter, granddaughter, and a great-granddaughter who’s got a bright future. I’m not worried about my next meal or a roof over my head. I’m respected in my community, liked by the people who mean the most to me, and [...]

2. Childhood Beyond The Schoolroom

By |2021-03-21T22:37:49+00:00January 29th, 2021|essay 2, Lloyd Johnson|

  Lloyd Johnson, c 1936 Toward the end of my kindergarten year at the Nathan Hale School, Ma summarily announced that I wouldn’t return there in the fall, supposedly because my first-grade teacher was “deaf.” Her rationale escaped me then, but at age 4 who was I to question her decision. Since then, I have come to think that, from Ma’s point of view, “deaf” meant that that teacher was wearing a hearing aid.   She declared that I would start the first grade at the Louis Prang School on Washington Street near Dudley Square. Louis Prang was a Boston printer [...]

4. Troubles & Mixed Blessings

By |2021-03-21T22:41:46+00:00January 27th, 2021|Lloyd Johnson|

Ma c. 1985 Los Angeles, CA To say that Ma and Dad didn’t get along is an understatement. Yes, they both loved us unreservedly, but their frequent verbal altercations, though never becoming physical, scarred us all. They seemed to argue almost incessantly, at all hours. More than once, in the wee hours of the morning, I was awakened by their loud, bitter arguments. I have no idea what their arguments were about. I know that Dad liked to play the numbers and gambled on horse and dog races. [...]

5. Becoming Socially Aware

By |2021-03-21T21:48:50+00:00January 26th, 2021|Lloyd Johnson|

My Truth: My Journey Toward Servant Leadership    Lloyd c. 1942 By the time I was 8 years old, Dad and I often engaged in conversations about politics and social inequality. Dad seemed to take quiet pride in our spirited one-to-one political conversations. I loved the opportunity to test my ideas – no matter how flawed -- in healthy debate. I still do.   Once I had the temerity to challenge his political judgment; Dad supported Boston’s Mayor James M. Curley, a Democratic political icon in the first half of the 20th century, who served part of his fourth term as mayor in prison for mail fraud.    Dad’s reply to Mayor Curley’s shortcomings was to ask me, rhetorically, who [...]

6. Church

By |2021-03-21T22:13:52+00:00January 25th, 2021|Lloyd Johnson|

My Truth: My Journey Toward Servant Leadership  St. Cyp’s Church. Roxbury, MA   “St. Cyp’s” and “Fergie.” They were the loving nicknames of our mother church, our family church -- that is St. Cyprian’s Episcopal Church --and our pastor there, The Rev. David Leroy Ferguson. Those nicknames speak to the extent that our faith community was our community, an integral part of our extended family, our village.  St. Cyp’s was a product of white racism. As former British colonials, almost everyone in Boston’s West Indian immigrant community was a member of the worldwide Anglican Communion and had an unwavering tradition of Sunday worship. However, these early 20th century Caribbean immigrants worshiped in the evening, unlike most churches.    Why? A large number of Boston’s West Indian community, especially women, were employed as live-in, domestic servants and nannies in the homes of Boston’s wealthy. Their schedules were such that they were unable to gather [...]

7. Gathering Storm & World War II

By |2021-03-21T22:43:10+00:00January 24th, 2021|Lloyd Johnson|

EUROPE’S WAR  We had no television during much of my childhood and certainly no internet or social media. We got our news through the radio, several of Boston’s daily newspapers, and the weekly newsreels at the movie theaters. And it was through those weekly newsreels that I learned about the horror of the World War II in Europe and Asia, especially Germany's bombing of London and other major cities in the United Kingdom, known as the “Battle of Britain.”  We dehumanized the Japanese people (“Japs”), portraying them as slant-eyed, buck-toothed, bespectacled, evil, inhuman monsters who slaughtered innocent civilians. The German people, on the other [...]

9. The Hill

By |2021-03-22T02:17:38+00:00January 22nd, 2021|Lloyd Johnson|

Street sceneBlue Hill Ave. & Quincy St.Roxbury, MA C. 1947Note demographics I was apprehensive about our move to this strange new neighborhood. It was called “The Hill” and its residents were overwhelmingly white, predominantly Jewish. I didn’t know anyone there and we were the only Black family on our new street, Walnut Park. I was afraid that this move would replicate my experience at the Louis Prang School where, as the only Black kid in my class, I was isolated and picked on.  Our new home at 61 [...]

10. The Threshold of High School

By |2021-03-22T02:55:38+00:00January 21st, 2021|Lloyd Johnson|

My Truth: My Journey Toward Servant Leadership   THE ENGLISH HIGH SCHOOL   Boston’s English High School (EHS) was huge, with a 2,000-plus, all-boys student body from every one of the city’s ethnic neighborhoods: East Boston (Italian), Dorchester (Irish), South End (Black), South Boston or “Southie” (also Irish), Roxbury/Mattapan (Jewish), and so forth. From my jr. high school, seven  of us went to EHS ; a few other entering 10th grade students transferred in from Boston Latin School for sundry reasons.    The school was then on Montgomery Street in Boston’s South End. There were relatively few Black students at EHS – 30 of of us among over 600 students in my graduation class. Other than us Black students, there wasn’t another Black face to be seen at EHS. The entire administrative, clerical, janitorial, [...]

11. Lasting Friendships

By |2021-03-22T02:56:36+00:00January 20th, 2021|Lloyd Johnson|

My Truth: My Journey to Servant Leadership    THE SPARTANS & LASTING FRIENDSHIPS  Jimmy Galloway1949 Jimmy Galloway, another Black kid from The Hill, and I became fast friends as we rode the trolley to and from English High School.  We especially liked our route to school because it was also taken by girls attending the nearby Girls High School. We wanted to flirt with them, but at 14-years-old, we really didn’t know what to say. That would come later.    I hung out with Jimmy and his younger brother, “Junnie” or “OG”, after school. [...]

12. Meanwhile, Back at Home

By |2021-03-22T02:59:35+00:00January 19th, 2021|Lloyd Johnson|

A DOWNWARD SPIRAL  At home, in the fall of 1948, a confluence of of events, in no particular order, contributed to an increasingly dysfunctional family situation and the disintegration of my world.   First, Ma, despite the steady rental income from the two tenants in our triple-decker apartment building on Walnut Park, might have been struggling to maintain our home on her low salary as an attendant at Boston State Hospital. But, for reasons that totally escape me, she sold the income-producing building to Calvin, pocketed the proceeds, and moved Eleanor and me with her into Aunt Edith’s crowded one-bedroom apartment on nearby Gannett Street. (Calvin eventually lost the [...]