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Wednesday, May 28th, 2008 by

Ruth Johnson, wife of Federal Judge Frank M. Johnson, Jr., died at age 88 Sunday in Montgomery, Alabama. A native of Winston County, Mrs. Johnson attended Haleyville High School, graduated from the University of Alabama and received her Master’s Degree in Education from Alabama State University. She worked as a teacher and librarian at a junior high school and joined the U.S. Navy WAVES during World War II.

Known by many as her husband’s “quiet source of strength,” Mrs. Johnson was described as a woman of character and integrity, having rooted herself in her mother’s teachings. In Frank Sikora‘s biography The Judge: The Life and Opinions of Alabama’s Frank M. Johnson, Jr., Mrs. Johnson recalled:

When I was a child, we were very poor. We worried about making the rent payment. During the Depression my mother told us … that if anybody came to the house looking for something to eat, that we were to feed them. And she told us to treat the Negroes the same as the whites. I’ll never forget what she told us one day. She said, “You’re not any better than anyone else. But you’re just as good.” I never forgot that.

Ruth Johnson will be buried next to her husband, Frank Johnson, at Winston Memorial Cemetery in Haleyville. Graveside services are scheduled for 2:00 p.m. Thursday, May 30.

Sikora’s The Judge tells the story of Federal Judge Frank Minis Johnson, Jr., and his crucial role in the success of the Civil Rights Movement via his decisions in the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the Freedom Rides, school desegregation, the Selma-to-Montgomery march, and the Ku Klux Klan conspiracy case in the night rider slaying of Viola Liuzzo. From The Judge:

There has been much said about the role Frank Johnson played in the Civil Rights Movement. In the Civil War, African American slaves were set free by soldiers’ blood. In the Civil Rights Movement, the great-great-grandchildren of slaves were granted the full freedoms of citizenship in large measure by a battery of southern federal judges who wrote opinions ending state-imposed segregation. Judge Frank M. Johnson, Jr., of Alabama was foremost among them.

Composed largely of direct quotes from Johnson, The Judge is almost autobiographical, and is a must-read for anyone interested in the key judicial decisions made during the Civil Rights Movement.

The Judge is available from NewSouth Books, Amazon, as well as your favorite online and retail booksellers.

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