Hon. E.A. Johnson, the subject of this sketch is a native of Raleigh, N.C. He received a grammar school course in the Washington School of Raleigh, and subsequently finished his education at Atlanta University. Returning to Raleigh, he was elected principal of the Washington School in which he received his early training, with nine teachers and some six hundred pupils. After six years of highly efficient work here, he was called to a position as co-instructor in the Law Department of Shaw University. After four years in this place he was given entire charge of the department and elected Dean, and for the last ten years has been turning out some of the best products of young lawyers that the race can boast of. Notable among these is Mr. A.W. Scott, a practitioner in this city, and Mr. J.C. Robertson, General Counsel of the True Reformers, at Richmond, Va.
While engaged at Shaw University Prof. Johnson held other important positions, having been twice elected member of the Board of Aldermen of the city of Raleigh, and for eight years was chairman of the Executive Committee of the Fourth Congressional or Metropolitan district of North Carolina, and was chosen delegate to the National Republican Convention.
Mr. Johnson is the author of “The School History of the Negro Soldiers in the Spanish American War,” “The Negro Almanac and Statistics,” and will shortly have out a new work from the Grafton Press of New York entitled, “Light Ahead for the Negro.” His History has been adopted as a text book by the North Carolina State Board of Education, the only instance of such recognition having been given a colored man in this country; and his books without doubt have the widest sale of those of any colored author.
He is a lawyer of keen and accurate judgement and seldom loses a case, having won every case he has had before the Supreme Court of his State, and in one instance a former member of the court was on the opposite side. He is a business man and a liberal contributor to worthy charity. His personal accumulations, according to the tax books, show a fortune of twenty five thousand dollars. All this is the result of fifteen years of work, having come out of school without a penny, and is the most worthy object lesson to those young men who are ambitious and aspiring. If all our young men could catch hold at the right place and gradually climb as he has, the much discussed race problem would soon vanish. — Source: “A Legal Light.” Colored American [Washington, DC] 8 Oct. 1904. Library of Congress Chronicling America. Web. <http://is.gd/5qHoi>.
- New York, July 25 (AP) – Edward A. Johnson, 83, Negro lawyer who began life as a slave and became the first of his race to be elected to the New York Legislature, died yesterday in Sydenham Hospital. He was elected to the assembly in 1917. Born in Raleigh, N.C., Johnson studied law at Shaw University and after graduation served on the faculty. He also attended Atlanta University and was principal of a Negro school there. Before coming to New York in 1907 he was an alderman in Raleigh. – July 25, 1944 issue of the Trenton Evening Times.
- His book “A School History of the Negro Race in America” is available through UNC’s Documenting the American South collection
- His book “Light Ahead for the Negro” is available as a free PDF file from Google Books
- His work, “Negro Almanac and Statistics” is available from the New York Public Library Digital Collection
- Life & Work of Edward Johnson – from the April 1933 issue of the Crisis Magazine