Archive for the 'The Judge' Category

Ruth Johnson, Wife of Federal Judge Frank M. Johnson, Jr., Dies at 88

Wednesday, May 28th, 2008 by Josh

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.

Judge Author Frank Sikora Interviewed on Tapestry

Monday, September 17th, 2007 by Mary Katherine

Frank Sikora, author of The Judge: The Life and Opinions of Alabama’s Frank M. Johnson, Jr. was interviewed recently by Greg Bass of Birmingham, Alabama’s WBHM public radio program Tapestry.

The Judge tells the life story of Judge Frank Johnson, focusing on his courtroom contributions to civil rights. In the interview, Sikora said that if Judge Johnson hadn’t acted in Montgomery, Alabama, “I don’t know that things would have progressed as they did … I think he put [the civil rights movement] 10 or 15 years ahead of where it would have been otherwise.”

When asked if Johnson ever had “the sense that he was on the right side of history” Sikora responded, “I think he surely did but he just didn’t say that. He though if he was fair, that was all he could ask. With his rulings he became, obviously, the most celebrated judge in the twentieth century in America, and maybe in history.”

Click here to listen to the entire interview.

The Judge: The Life and Opinions of Alabama’s Frank M. Johnson, Jr. is avaliable from NewSouth Books,, or your favorite online and retail booksellers.

Internet Resources Enhance Judge Johnson Biography

Tuesday, July 31st, 2007 by Lyndsey

NewSouth’s reissue of Frank Sikora’s authorized biography of Judge Frank Johnson, The Judge, offers a definitive, personal insight into this important man. The following list of Internet resources serves to enhance the information presented in the book:

  • The Medal of Freedom offers information Presidential Medal of Freedom winners. Judge Johnson was awarded the medal in 1995 by President Bill Clinton. From the website:

    In his speech to the distinguished civil rights judge, Clinton says that Johnson stood strong against the “unremitting social and political pressure to uphold the traditions of oppression and neglect in his native South” and “never once did he yield. His landmark decisions in the areas of desegregation, voting rights, and civil liberties transformed our understanding of the constitution.”

  • The Academy of Achievement‘s short biography of Judge Johnson details many of his landmark cases and decisions in the fight for civil rights, including Browder v. Gale (1956), in which Johnson, following on the heels of the Montgomery bus boycott started by Rosa Parks, ruled that the statute allowing for segregation in buses was unconstitutional; Lee v. Macon County Board of Education (1963), in which Johnson issued Alabama’s first statewide desegregation order; and Williams v. Wallace, in which Johnson ordered that the road from Selma to Montgomery should be opened to protesters, led by Martin Luther King, Jr., due to “the enormity of the wrongs” being protested.

  • Time Magazine has recently made a 1967 interview with Judge Johnson available online. The article highlights the importance of Johnson to the Civil Rights Movement, noting that his courtroom decisions were crucial to the successes of such leaders as Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rosa Parks.

  • That’s Alabama, a website focused on the important history of the state, has a section dedicated to the heroes of Alabama that includes a biography of Frank M. Johnson and a brief list of his achievements.

  • The African American Registry emphasizes the importance of African American history, particularly throughout the Civil Rights Movement. They explain Judge Johnson’s the court cases, focusing on how his decisions aided the Civil Rights Movement.

    The Judge: The Life and Opinions of Alabama’s Frank M. Johnson, Jr. is available from NewSouth Books,, or your favorite online and retail booksellers.

  • NewSouth Books Announces Spring 2007 Book Line

    Friday, September 15th, 2006 by Brian Seidman

    NewSouth announces three intriguing new titles for the Spring 2007 season:

    Fire Ants is the hilarious new short story collection from award-winning Coasters author Gerald Duff. Publishers Weekly has hailed the wit and subtlety in Gerald Duffs fiction as simply satisfying as a tall cold one on a hot Gulf Coast afternoon, and the Arkansas Democrat-Gazetter said Gerald Duffs dialogue is among the best being written, and his sense of the absurd is Portis-like. This new collection of short stories features the Ploughshares Cohen Prize-winning story Fire Ants.

    All Guts, No Glory by NAIA Basketball Coaches’ Hall of Fame inductee Bill Elder tells how Elder and a courageous group of white and black student athletes broke racial barriers at a small college in northeast Alabama in the early 1970s. He shows vividly why he sometimes wondered whether he and his players would live through their experience. Abandoned by their school officials, the players faced constant threats and harassment and occasional violence, but they kept playing and winning games and forging bonds between themselves that lasted long after that first season was over.

    The Judge : The Life and Opinions of Alabamas Frank M. Johnson, Jr., by veteran journalist Frank Sikora (Hear the Bugles Calling [2001]), remembers Judge Frank Johnson of Mongomery, Alabama, who presided over some of the most emotional hearings and trials of the civil rights movement. The black petition for full freedom began in Montgomery in Johnsons courtroom, and it would end in this city, also before Judge Johnson. This book covers many of the notable cases: 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.

    For more information on any of these titles, please email or call NewSouth toll-free at (866) 639-7688.