Black History Month: Meet Chelitia Johnson

By: Michael Oder Email
By: Michael Oder Email

Chelitia Johnson grew up in College Station going to the Lincoln Recreation Center. As an adult, she's returning the guidance she got as a child.

As part of Black History Month, we're featuring people in the Brazos Valley African American community who are making a difference. We meet a woman whose work is a life-long journey.

If you've ever been to the Lincoln Recreation Center in College Station in the afternoon, it's hard to imagine there's any order. Hundreds of school children from the area spend most of their days at Lincoln, after school and before going home. The staff there is experienced.

"Some of them might say that Ms. Chelitia is nice. Some of them might say Ms. Chelitia is mean. But they know, in the end, that Ms. Chelitia is going to take care of them," says Chelitia Johnson, the assistant supervisor at Lincoln.

It's that tough love that has steered Chelitia through 20 years at the Lincoln Recreation Center in College Station. Over that time, she's had the chance to impact thousands of kids. Her biggest challenge is understanding where these kids call home.

"I guess, when we have youth that are not from the best situations and wanting their parents to be more responsible and sometimes wanting our parents to be more of a parent," say Johnson, talking about the home situations many kids at Lincoln face.

After graduating high school about 20 years ago, Chelitia, one of four daughters to a single mother, started her first year at Blinn. Little did she know that the doors to the Lincoln Center would open once more.

You get an idea about black history in College Station, by looking at the history of the Lincoln Recreation Center. It was the African American School until 1965.

"To me, it's almost like a forgotten history and if we don't teach it, who's going to teach it?" asks Chelitia. To keep black history alive, she says, you have keep the bar high.

"Being in here, you feel like we have to be better, to be an encouragement to our kids. Because if those students from Lincoln High can become doctors, lawyers, the first {black} air traffic controller, our kids today should be able to do the exact same thing with more opportunity. So, yes, we have to be better and go beyond," says Johnson.

Chelitia believes the Lincoln Center gives kids a chance to succeed by utilizing every opportunity. A recipe for a successful future she knows works.

Johnson says she's looking forward to the future at the Lincoln Recreation Center. One that might include expansions to better meet the needs of the community.


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