by Keva Coles-Benton
Edwin Johnson is the Senior Coordinator for Student Disability Services at Morgan State University, but his wealth of knowledge on the history of the University led to his appointment by Gov. Larry Hogan as commissioner on the State Commission for African American History and Culture.
Johnson received three of his four degrees from Morgan State, majoring in speech communication, african-american studies and history.
After assisting with an exhibit called “Untold Stories,” where he offered some of the historical artifacts he owns, Johnson was invited to apply for commissioner. Johnson’s artifacts include tokens of Morgan State’s past, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc. – which he became a member of at Morgan State – and Morgan State sports artifacts.
Johnson takes a special interest in Morgan State’s history and sees his appointment as an opportunity to share the school’s story.
“As a morganite, you take on a different pride when you know some of the things that go on here” he said.
Johnson is a sponge of Morgan State history that a lot of students are unaware of such as the fact that Charles Drew, the inventor of the blood bank, used to coach at Morgan State.
“A lot of people don’t know U.S. Marshal George McKinney served the subpoena to President Nixon in the Watergate scandal” said Johnson. McKinney is a 1956 graduate of Morgan State.
His appointment came in line with Hogan being the keynote speaker at last Thursday’s convocation. Students were initially uneasy about him being the speaker at convocation after his initial decision to deny funding to Morgan State’s budget for the new Montebello complex, which has since been reversed.
Johnson encourages current Morganites to see how the state funds HBCUs.
“When has Maryland ever been kind to HBCUs, is it just Hogan or is it bigger than him?” he asked.
Johnson’s goal with this new position is for Morgan State to understand and appreciate where they came from because all the students’ success depends on “intangibles” like pride, self-respect, and self-image.
“Mainstream American society doesn’t have to destroy African-American culture because if we don’t know our own culture we’ll do it ourselves” he said.
Johnson said an exhibit will be made for Morgan State’s sesquicentennial.