MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – On Thursday night, the Minneapolis Urban League will recognize a community leader who’s been active in the Twin Cities for more than 50 years. She was part of a small group of Minnesotans who took part in the historic March on Washington.

We have a look at why Dr. Josie Johnson is being honored with the distinguished Trailblazer Award.

It was Aug. 28, 1963.

People from all over the nation made their way to Washington, DC.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had issued the call to march for jobs and freedom. And in Minnesota, Johnson was working for the Minneapolis Urban League.

“What was going on in Alabama and Mississippi, we felt it here in Minnesota. And there was a sense of community. We are a community. Our issues are similar throughout the USA,” she said. “What we saw was our people in the south organizing and suffering as a result of it.”

Johnson returned to Minneapolis fired up.

Over the next five decades, she would become the first African American member of the University of Minnesota Board of Regents, a lobbyist, a community organizer, and an adviser to political leaders.

“She is a person that is maybe small in stature but a giant amongst many in this community. So, you know, it was easy for us to recognize her as a Trailblazer. She has done so much,” said Minneapolis Urban League President Scott Gray.

“It is our job as a people,” Johnson said, “to prove to our children that hard work yields success.”

The Minneapolis Urban League Annual Gala is at the Minneapolis Convention Center on Thursday.

The keynote speaker is entrepreneur Daymond John, the founder of FUBU and a co-star of the TV show “Shark Tank”

The program begins at 6 p.m., with a reception before and after. WCCO-TV’s Angela Davis is the emcee.


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