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Accounts vary but Johnson was recognized in 1922 by Harvard University and awarded a Master of Science in Theology. Other reports state that he studied at the institution’s divinity school, but the consistent thread is that Harvard’s degree was official. In four years time, he was named the 13th and first African-American president of Howard University.

For the next 34 years, Johnson guided the school to academic prominence and was able to amass funding from private donors and Congress to grow the school into a respected institution. Johnson’s tenacious focus on improving the standing of the school and its facilities included reaching out and hiring some of the Black Intelligentsia’s best scholars and educators to the faculty.

Dr. Ralph Bunche, Dr. Charles Drew, Dr. E. Franklin Frazier and Charles Hamilton Houston were among some of the hires made under Johnson’s leadership.

Johnson stepped down from his post in 1960, and passed in 1976.

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Little Known Black History Fact: Dr. Mordecai Wyatt Johnson  was originally published on

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