John H. Johnson statue to be unveiled in Arkansas City

An artist rendering of the John H. Johnson Park entry is shown. (Special to The Commercial/Arkansas State Parks)
An artist rendering of the John H. Johnson Park entry is shown. (Special to The Commercial/Arkansas State Parks)


The annual John H. Johnson Day will be observed in Arkansas City at the John H. Johnson Museum and Arkansas State Parks Delta Heritage Trail from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Nov. 1.

The observance will begin at 10 a.m. with the John H. Johnson statue unveiling at the Arkansas State Parks Trailhead.

Born in Arkansas City, the late John H. Johnson was the founder and publisher of Johnson Publishing Co. and Ebony and Jet magazines.

Artist Susan Holley Williams, a native of Dumas, is the sculptor of the Johnson statue and will share her journey in curating the historic piece, according to a news release.

Linda Johnson Rice, Johnson's daughter and former chief executive officer of Johnson Publishing Co., and Roy Lewis, former Johnson Publishing Co. photographer, will have a conversation with Janis F. Kearney, author, publisher and diarist for former President Bill Clinton.

Rice and Lewis will discuss the legacy of Johnson and the role of Black media in keeping Black history alive and thriving, according to the release.

Cooking With Soul Chef Jarita Frazier-King of Soul Food Natchez, as seen on Hulu's "Searching For Soul Food", will lead a hands-on cooking demonstration that celebrates the history and culture of Black food traditions during the 1900s when Johnson was a child in Arkansas City.

The daylong celebration will also include Mississippi Valley State University demonstrating jug-band music with a musical petting zoo; a presentation on the architecture and history of the museum; and presentations by the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, and Arkansas State University, among others.

John H. Johnson Day awards will also be presented to U.S. Congressman Danny K. Davis and Coach Larry Clark in the category of humanitarian; Roy Lewis in the category of media and journalism; and Michele Ghee (former CEO of Ebony magazine) in the category of business and entrepreneurship.

John H. Johnson Day is free and open to the public. With the exception of food sold by food trucks, all events and activities will be free at the John H. Johnson Museum, Arkansas State Parks Delta Heritage Trail Robert S. Moore Jr. Trailhead, and Desha County historic district and lawn.

Established by Friends of John H. Johnson Museum and enacted by legislation during the 92nd Arkansas General Assembly, John H. Johnson Day honors the life and legacy of Arkansas' native son.

Details: www.johnhjohnsonmuseum.org. For more information on Ebony magazine visit 75 Years of Ebony Magazine, National Museum of African American History and Culture.