- This article is about the educator. For the Wahouma neighborhood president, see Robert Johnson (Wahouma).
Robert Charles Johnson was the third principal of A. H. Parker High School.
Johnson was promoted to principal in January 1947 after the death of W. B. Johnson. He oversaw the addition of a guidance program and the first accreditation of the school by the Southern Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools in 1953. Johnson believed firmly that the best opportunities for African Americans were rooted in education.
Johnson and his wife, Mildred, had two daughters. In early 1963 the Johnsons welcomed their oldest, Alma, home from Boston. Johnson had given her hand to young army Captain Colin Powell the year before, but he was serving in Vietnam and she was pregnant.
That spring, tensions in Birmingham rose as the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference planned mass demonstrations in protest of segregation and racial injustice. Johnson began staying up nights cradling a shotgun to guard their house.
He also warned his students not to join in the demonstrations, emphasizing the Birmingham Board of Education's threat of automatic expulsion for unauthorized absences. Nevertheless, when the SCLC's James Bevel organized a Children's Crusade to fill the jails on May 6, nearly a fourth of the student body left classes to participate, chanting "Gotta go, Mr Johnson, gotta go!".
Johnson also began planning for the new building which was completed after his retirement, due to illness, in 1969.
- Huntley, Horace and John W. McKerley, eds. (2009) Foot Soldiers for Democracy: The Men, Women, and Children of the Birmingham Civil Rights Movement. Champaign, Illinois: University of Illinois Press ISBN 9780252076688