Succeeded by Martin Luther King Jr., Johns died on April 11, 1965. Vernon Napoleon Johnswas produced in Darlington Heights, part of Prince Edward County, Virginia, on April 22, 1892, having a sophisticated multiracial family history. Johns worked on the farm growing up and was a voracious reader and student of Western ancient thought, attending the Boydton Institute and Virginia Theological Seminary and School.
Though supposedly expelled from his previous association, Johns went on to attend Oberlin College’s seminary and became the top student of his class, giving the well-known Memorial Arch talk and graduating in 1918 along with his divinity degree. He took on various teaching and ministry work within the ensuing decades, becoming among the very well known African American religious leaders of the age who had been also from the carton, having a fire for traveling without being beholden to his educational history.
In 1927, Johns wed Altona Trent, a classical pianist, teacher and scholar who additionally writer music publications. The couple went on to have three sons and three daughters. In 1948, following a mesmerizing trial sermon, Johns became the 19th pastor of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama. Johns could discuss and read multiple languages, being especially fond of Greek, and was recognized to recite long literary and scriptural passages at will as he had a photographic memory.
Johns was a community activist also, helping African American girls who were raped by white men accuse their attackers to the authorities. The community activist was additionally involved with desegregation work, refusing to comply with racist bus policies and at one point purchasing a sandwich and drink from a white eatery, being pursued outside almost by gunpoint. His sermons may be in your face at the same time, with titles linking to oppressive, violent social dynamics confronted by African Americans. His niece, Barbara Johns, who lived with his immediate family to get a period, was also in the helm of among the suits associated with the historical 1954 Brown v. Board of Education school desegregation case. The community activist was finally succeeded there by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Leading civil rights leaders like King and Ralph D. Abernathy additionally looked to Johns for sustenance and guidance. Dr. Martin expired on April 11, 1965, in Washington, D.C. Historian Ralph E. Luker has composed much about Johns’s life and work, and Taylor Branch profiled Johns in his novel Parting the Waters: America in the King Years 1954-63 (1988). Celebrity James Earl Jones also impersonated Johns in a famous 1994 television film, The Road to Freedom.