Grimes County Man Lives through Racial Discrimination to Witness Race Elevation

By: Kristen Ross Email
By: Kristen Ross Email

He grew up when times were uncertain for African Americans. Racial segregation was rampant in schools, buses, and restaurants, and long before the Civil Rights Act 1964 was even given serious thought.

Now a Grimes County man is taking the trip of a lifetime to watch something he never thought possible, an African American take the Presidential Oath of Office.

Strathwell Johnson says it was a different time back when he was growing up with his grandfather, a freed slave, in a log cabin--only a fraction of the size of the one he now lives in today.

"To have come from where they could not even let me come in to eat at the restaurant at all, then live to see an African American elected to one of the highest offices in the land--that's a great feeling," Johnson said.

At the ripe age of 90, you might expect Johnson to just sit back and watch political landscape change from afar. But instead this self-proclaimed political junkie, has made it a point to attend nearly every Democratic National Convention since the 80's.

But Johnson never thought he would live to see the day an African American would become Commander-in-Chief.

"You know Martin Luther King had this dream," Johnson said. "I never had a dream like that."

That is until he saw Barack Obama in person at the Democratic National Convention.

Now Johnson is packing his bags for the trip of a lifetime.

"I think I'll be warm enough," Johnson says while throwing his winter coat into his luggage. "I told Mrs. Johnson, I want to go to this, if she has to send me in a coffin that's just how much it means to me."

Johnson will be one of the millions in attendance, to watch history once again be made before his eyes.

"It's just such an elevation as far as I'm concerned for our race, and it's a thrill to me," Johnson said.

Johnson was one of the lucky few to receive tickets from Chet Edwards office. He says Tuesday is sure to be an emotional day for himself and his family, and just thinking about it brings tears to his eyes.

He adds if his grandfather were still alive today, that he would be blown away to see an African American become President.

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