There are a lot of great men in this world, some get their due recognition and some don’t. So I couldn’t help feeling after I read the bios and feature stories on the Johnson brothers, Livingstone and Justin, that these are two of the greatest men who have ever lived and neither have received their due recognition.
This is why I’m glad I was a part of the New Pittsburgh Courier honoring these two giants as our Legacy Award winners as part of the 50 Men of Excellence. I’m not knocking the previous winners, they deserved it, but these brothers’ accomplishments in the time period that they accomplished them is just awesome. I’m sorry! These brothers’ accomplishments in today’s time period would be awesome.
First of all, a high school education was not something easy to come by during the 1950s and ‘60s for Blacks, but a college degree, then a law degree? For those of you who have been sleeping under a log or rock, these were Jim Crow segregated times. I know some of you say, well they lived in the north. Pittsburgh was just as segregated as the South, they just didn’t have written laws. They had the unwritten laws making it very clear where Negroes were and were not allowed.
Yet these brothers, led by Livingstone, and guided by family, father and mother, dared to do what many would have said was impossible in today’s world let alone in the 1950s and ‘60s. They both joined the military as fighter pilots and excelled. One in the Korean War the other in the Vietnam War.
Then following in their father, Oliver’s footsteps they both became lawyers, and joined the law firm of Johnson, Johnson, and Johnson. It must have really been hard on Justin, being the youngest, having to live up to first his father then his big brother.
But not only did they become lawyers, they were so successful that they were appointed and elected to the bench, for many, many years. They became two of the most respected men, not only in Pittsburgh, but in the country.
At the 50 Men of Excellence event the planners try to keep it short and sweet, so people can get in and get out. But when Livingstone got up to speak every one knew he was a talker and didn’t know what to expect. He made it very clear to everyone that he had been asked to be brief, but being who he is, he didn’t know what that was.
But once he started talking, everyone was hanging on his every word as he brought history to life.