Rev. Nelson Johnson is a North Carolina church leader, social activist and a former Communist Workers Party leader.
Johnson has been active in the movement for “social and economic justice” since high school, in the late 1950s. He served as a student leader for the Student Government Association at A&T State University, in Greensboro, NC in 1970. Between high school and college, Rev. Johnson served four years in the United States Air Force. He continues to work for “social and economic justice” in Greensboro as Pastor of Faith Community Church and Executive Director of The Beloved Community Center of Greensboro.
Guided by his three-part emphasis of “diversity, justice and democracy,” Rev. Johnson is actively building relationships with and providing leadership within organized labor, faith groups and other public and private community organizations. He and other local ministers of the Greensboro Pulpit Forum led an active support effort in 1997 that resulted in a significant contract settlement for workers at the Greensboro K-Mart Distribution Center. As a result, he is frequently invited to share that success story at workshops and meetings, including those sponsored by the George Meany Labor Institute, the AFL-CIO of New York,and the Michigan AFL-CIO.
Because of his “extensive experience in community organizing and socio-political analysis,” Rev. Johnson is routinely invited to speak on university campuses around the country to share his vision of community building. He has written articles for the University ofPennsylvania Journal of Labor and Employment Law and The Witness Magazine, published by the National Episcopal Church. Rev. Johnson is also a former Contributing Editor for The Black Scholar magazine, National Chair and Contributing Editor for theAfrican World Newspaper and Assistant Editor for the Carolina Peacemaker of Greensboro, NC.
The New York based, pro-China Communist Workers Party was formed in 1979 out of theWorkers Viewpoint Organization and Nelson Johnson‘s Greensboro, NC, group, the Youth Organization for Black Unity. Nelson Johnson became the CWP’s chairman, while Jerry Tung served as general secretary and as the real leader.
Within a few weeks, Johnson was involved in the infamous “Greensboro Massacre,” when armed communists were involved in a street gun battle with the KKK. Five CWP supporters were killed, and 9 were wounded:
Footage from 1979 “Death to the Klan” Rally
In the early 1980s, Johnson was involved in the CWP’s main front group – Federation For Progress – as was current leading California Congress member Judy Chu.
At the time, Nelson Johnson was a leader of the Organizing Committee of Coalition Against Black Genocide.
In recent years, Johnson has worked with former CWP comrade and “Greensboro Massacre” survivor, Roz Pelles, to build the very radical Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II‘sMoral Mondays movement.
Rev. Nelson Johnson was a member of that first group of seventeen people arrested on April 29th, 2013, on the very first Moral Monday. “People see the great crowds on Mondays,” he says. “What they don’t see is all the work that came before that.”