Kentucky Commission on Human Rights
Kentucky Commission on Human Rights Announces New Executive Director

Press Release Date:  Thursday, August 23, 2007  
Contact Information:  Victoria Dempsey, Communications Director, 502.641.0760  

LOUISVILLE - The Kentucky Commission on Human Rights announced its new executive director today during the agency’s regular monthly meeting.

John J. Johnson will leave his position with The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) in Washington D.C., where he served this last year as a consultant for Voter Mobilization. Before that, Mr. Johnson served the national NAACP in Baltimore, Md., from 1986 to 2006, his last role there being that of the CEO in the President's Office.

Mr. Johnson says: “I am honored to have the opportunity to direct the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights.  My goal is to continue to maintain the commission as one of the most respected and productive agencies of its kind in the country.  Kentucky is my home.  It is good to be back.  I look forward to helping our state address issues and concerns that effect an ever growing diverse population.”

Born in Louisville, Ky., in 1945, he was raised in Franklin, Ky., where he experienced segregation and racism. He joined the NAACP Youth Council while in high school, and at age 17, became the youngest president of any Kentucky chapter of the NAACP. As a result of his success as president, in 1993, a street in Franklin was named John J. Johnson Avenue in his honor. He worked as state president of the NAACP for 14 years. While in Kentucky, he also served as president of the Franklin-Simpson Kentucky Branch of the NAACP and in the mid 1980s as executive director of the Louisville/Jefferson County Community Action Agency.

Mr. Johnson has been a dedicated activist for civil rights for over 40 years. Since its inception, he has been an avid supporter of the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights and assisted with its expansion as both a volunteer and as an employee with the title of Director of Community Services. He worked vigorously helping to form many of the local human rights commissions throughout Kentucky.

Mr. Johnson can trace his family history back to a maternal great-great grandfather named John Purdue who was an ex-slave and minister. Mr. Johnson was inducted into the Kentucky Civil Rights Hall of Fame in 2005. Mr. Johnson is not related to the Kentucky Human Rights Commission Chair Priscilla Johnson.

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The selection of a new executive director follows the resignation of former director Linda Strite Murnane last spring so that she could serve on the United Nations War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands.

KCHR is the state government agency that enforces the Kentucky Civil Rights Act and policies of federal civil rights laws.  It initiates, receives, investigates, conciliates and rules upon jurisdictional complaints.  KCHR has jurisdiction in housing, employment, public accommodations, and financial transactions. The Kentucky Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, familial status in housing, disability, age (40 or over) in employment, and smoking status in employment. Complaints not dismissed, settled or conciliated go to administrative hearing where commission rulings have the authority of a court of law.