Tennessee State University to Celebrate Founders’ Day October 3

The Honorable Harvey Johnson Jr.
The Honorable Harvey Johnson Jr.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University will revisit one of its most hallowed traditions on Thursday, Oct. 3 when it holds its annual Founders’ Day program to honor all those who have sacrificed through the years to make TSU the leader in higher education that is has become.

The event will take place in the Howard C. Gentry Center beginning at 9 a.m., and is free and open to the public.

The Honorable Harvey Johnson Jr., former Mayor of Jackson, Miss., will provide the keynote address. Johnson served as the first African-American mayor of Jackson from 1997-2005 and again from 2009-2013.

Johnson is a native of Vicksburg, MS., where he graduated from Rosa A. Temple High School.  He received a bachelor’s degree in political science from Tennessee State University in 1968 and a master’s degree in political science from the University of Cincinnati in 1970.  He has done additional study toward a doctoral degree in public administration at the University of Southern California’s Washington Public Affairs Center.  Johnson was awarded the Doctor of Humane Letters, from Tougaloo College.

In 1997, Johnson made history by being elected Jackson, Mississippi’s first African-American mayor.  In 2001, Jackson voters again chose Johnson for a second four-year term as mayor of Mississippi’s Capital City. He was elected to a third term in 2009, making him the longest-serving mayor under the City’s mayor-council form of government, which was instituted in 1985. He left office in June of 2013.

Johnson led the effort which resulted in the construction of the City’s first Convention Center, located adjacent to a new state-of-the-art, high tech Telecommunications Training and Conference Center. Johnson-created initiatives include:  Jobs for Jacksonians, which focuses on finding jobs for local residents; the Equal Business Opportunity Program, established in 1998 to ensure that minority contractors have an equal opportunity in the procurement of City contracts; Fresh Start, a program to assist ex-offenders in re-entry into the community; and monthly ward meetings, where local residents are given the opportunity to meet with City officials, department directors and staff.

Prior to being elected Mayor of Jackson, Johnson assisted economically depressed small towns with minority leadership in obtaining basic necessities such as water and sewer service, as the founder and Executive Director of the Mississippi Institute for Small Towns, a nonprofit agency. His 25 years of professional experience include planning and community development as well as serving as assistant professor of political science at Jackson State University. He is a former member of the Commission on Colleges for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

During his years as mayor, Johnson served on the U.S. Conference of Mayors Advisory Council, President of the National Conference of Black Mayors, member of the National Conference of Democratic Mayors,  member of the Executive Committee of the Democratic National Committee, and a charter member of 100 Black Men of Jackson, Incorporated. He was a 1965 initiate into Beta Omicron Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., and he is a life member.  Johnson is also a life member of the NAACP.  He has served on the Boards of Directors of various private and non-profits organizations, and has received numerous awards, commendations, recognitions and honors.

Harvey Johnson, Jr. is married to Kathy Ezell Johnson, and they have two adult children, Harvey III and Sharla.  He is a member of Hope Spring Missionary Baptist Church.

For more information on the event, call 615.963.5331.





Department of Media Relations
Tennessee State University
3500 John A. Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209

About Tennessee State University

With nearly 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university and is a comprehensive, urban, coeducational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 22 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top Universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912 Tennessee State University celebrates 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu