The Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton Chapter, National Society Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), Holland, Michigan, is proud to announce that Dr. Fred L. Johnson III, associate professor of history at Hope College, will be presented with the DAR Medal of Honor. Dr. Johnson was nominated by the Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton Chapter for this honor, which is the most prestigious award that the DAR presents.
It is given to an adult man or woman who is a United States citizen by birth and has shown extraordinary qualities of leadership, trustworthiness, service and patriotism. The recipient must have made unusual and lasting contributions to our American Heritage by truly giving of himself or herself to his or her community, state, country, and fellowman.
The presentation will occur at Hope on Friday, November 22, 2019, at 11 a.m. in the John and Dede Howard Recital Hall of the Jack H. Miller Center for Musical Arts. Honored guests will include Michigan DAR State Regent Gina LaCroix, Nancy DeBoer, Hope College President Matthew Scogin, Kent County Habitat for Humanity Director of Homeowner Services Gail Hollen, and President Emeritus of Western Theological Seminary Dr. Tim Brown. The Posting of Colors will be performed by the West Michigan Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution with music by the Holland American Legion Band.
- Please visit here for more about and by Dr. Fred Johnson III:
Asute scholar, insightful observer, outstanding speaker, engaged citizen, cherished professor: A sampling of articles about, and addresses and published reflections by, 2019 DAR Medal of Honor recipient Dr. Fred Johnson III, associate professor of history:
- A feature story about him, “Living Narrative,” in the December 2010 issue of “News
from Hope College” (pdf, pages 14-15)
- His op-ed “So What Are You Doing With That History Major?,” on History News Network
on Jan. 1, 2017
- Reflections prompted by the college’s Vietnam May Term, “The Long Shadow of Vietnam,”
in the Winter 2017 issue of “News from Hope College” (page 26), previously published
on the Department of History’s blog
- His op-ed “Why black culture thrives alongside rampant racism,” in the Washington
Post on July 17, 2018
- His Hope College Opening Convocation address, “More than ever… just believe!,” delivered
on Aug. 26, 2018
- His perspective included in the Associated Press story “After all who were there are gone, what happens to history?,” published on June 10, 2019, following the 75th anniversary of D-Day (June 6, 1944)
Fred Johnson was born in Nassawadox, Virginia, in 1958. As a young child, Fred moved with his family to the Philippines where his father, an Air Force sergeant, was stationed. In the Philippines, with its harmonious blend of cultures and races, Fred never felt the sting of racism. However, upon his return to the States he was shocked and saddened by the discrimination he experienced. At 15, Fred was brutally beaten by police who raided an African-American block party during the civil rights movement. Fred was left black-eyed and bruised but would not let that terrifying experience hold him down. Instead of being angry, he wanted to study history to gain understanding. He dreamed of becoming a fighter pilot but was disqualified because of a sickle-cell blood trait. So, instead Fred joined the United States Marine Corps, where he served as a communications-electronics officer for 12 years.
Fred earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Bowie State University (Maryland), and a Master of Arts and Ph.D. from Kent State University (Ohio). In addition, Dr. Johnson studied and received a Master of Divinity Degree from Western Theological Seminary.
Fred began teaching at Hope in 2000 and has received numerous awards including the Hope Outstanding Professor Educator, and the Ruth and John Reed Faculty Achievement Award which is given to a superior teacher who also contributes as a research scholar, guide in student activities, and representative of the college in the community. Students have chosen Dr. Johnson to be the keynote speaker at commencement and honored him with the Hope Favorite Professor Award twice.
As an enthusiastic participant in the international Toastmasters World Series of Public Speaking competition, he advanced to the semi-finals eight times — placing him among the 100 best speakers in the global organization. He took second place in 2017 and 2018. Always in demand as a speaker, Dr. Johnson has delivered many addresses including: “While Black People Slept” (South Haven Speakers Series), “History of African Americans in West Michigan” (Herrick Library), and he was the featured speaker honoring veterans at the Holland Memorial Day Remembrance. In addition, he moderated the PBS Series “Inventing America — Liberty for All,” where he conversed with the Founding Fathers regarding the Bill of Rights.
Dr. Johnson has authored three novels featuring African-American men dealing with the issues of family, divorce and faith: Bittersweet (2002, Random House), A Man Finds His Way (2003, Random House), and Other Men’s Wives (2005, Random House). He also co-authored Tupac Sakur- The Life and Times of an American Icon (2010, Thunders Mouth Press). Dr. Johnson has also submitted a proposal to Kent State University Press for publication- Worth to Us an Army: Robert E. Lee’s War Against the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. His article entitled, “Why Black Culture Thrives Alongside Rampant Racism” was recently published in the Washington Post (July 2018).
Dr. Johnson is credited with increasing the presence of minorities on Hope College’s campus and creating opportunities to interact with people from different cultures. For two summers Dr. Johnson has led a student group to Vietnam to experience their culture and learn how the Vietnam War impacted that country. Fred has also hosted community programs to educate the public about the many contributions African-Americans have made to our community, state and country. Dr. Johnson has also ventured into the political arena by twice running for Michigan’s 2nd U.S. congressional seat.
He is willing to tackle the difficult issues of racism and ethnicism in West Michigan and the country — proof of his willingness to serve, meet challenges and take a stand against systemic racism and prejudice.
Dr. Johnson also serves on the Board of Directors for Habitat for Humanity where he has worked to obtain fair housing for veterans and other low-income community residents. Recently, Dr. Johnson traveled to Ecuador for a conference exploring the impact religious leaders can have on saving the earth’s environment and ensuring clean water and air for all.
Dr. Fred L. Johnson III is a historian, award winning educator, author, environmental activist, ex-Marine, recognized public speaker, civil rights supporter, community leader and public servant who has dedicated his life to making positive change in our country.
The Jack H. Miller Center for Musical Arts is located at 221 Columbia Ave., between Ninth and 10th streets.
The National Society Daughters of the American Revolution was founded in 1890 to promote historic preservation, education and patriotism. Its members are descended from the patriots who won American independence during the Revolutionary War. With more than 177,000 members in approximately 3,000 chapters worldwide, DAR is one of the world’s largest and most active service organizations. DAR members are committed to volunteer service, having served more than 12.5 million hours in communities throughout the world during the past three years. To learn more about the work of today’s DAR, visit www.DAR.org or connect with DAR on social media on facebook, twitter or youtube.com.