BIRMINGHAM, Alabama — Birmingham civil rights activist Colonel Stone Johnson, who once helped carry a Ku Klux Klan bomb away from Bethel Baptist Church in Collegeville before it exploded, died January 19, 2012. He was 93.
Bishop Calvin Woods said Mr. Johnson fell ill about two weeks ago and Woods took him to Princeton Baptist Medical Center. “He was a dedicated servant of God,” Woods said. “He was a man of faith and a man of courage. He was steadfast and unmovable.”
On June 29, 1958, restaurant worker Laverne McWilliams was returning home after midnight and reported a smoking object next to the church, Mr. Johnson recalled in a 2011 interview with The Birmingham News.
Mr. Johnson and several other men were standing guard from the front porch of a church deacon’s house across the street from the church when McWilliams alerted them. “She said, ‘Are y’all going to sit there and let the church burn?’” Johnson recalled.
“It was a five-gallon white bucket with smoke coming out. She thought it was a fire. Will Hall said, ‘Let’s go check it out, Stoney.’ It was 16 sticks of dynamite.”
The dynamite exploded, and the impact shook Bethel Baptist Church and neighboring houses. “That dynamite blew out windows in houses five blocks away,” Johnson said. “It broke glasses and plates in the cupboards. All the fixtures in the church fell on the floor.”
Up until his final years, Mr. Johnson, known for his calm demeanor and trademark cowboy hat, was a regular volunteer at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute and a common sight in Kelly Ingram Park near the statue of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Mr. Johnson also served as a bodyguard for when King visited Birmingham.
The city of Birmingham in 2011 dedicated a street in his honor.
Mr. Johnson’s wife of nearly 70 years, Beatrice, died in May at the age of 89. Woods said the two never had children. Woods said he has been notifying relatives of Johnson who live out of state.
Mr. Johnson was born on Sept. 9, 1918, in Lowndes County to Fannie and Colonel Johnson. His family moved to Birmingham when he was 4.
After graduating from Lincoln High School in 1939, he was hired to work at the Louisville & Nashville Railroad Company, where he worked for nearly 40 years, starting in 1942. He became active in labor issues and he said he was the first black union representative for the company in Birmingham.
Some people mistake Johnson’s first name for a military title, but Johnson took that name from his father, who was named Colonel to honor a Union officer in the Civil War, William R. Brewster, who led a brigade at Gettysburg. ”My father wanted me to have his name,” Mr. Johnson said in 2011.
Birmingham Mayor William A. Bell Sr. has asked that flags on all city buildings be lowered to half staff in honor of Colonel Stone Johnson.
The flags will remain at half staff until after the funeral service.
A public viewing will be Friday Jan. 27 from 1 p.m. until 7 p.m. at Arrington Funeral Home at 520 Cotton Ave SW Birmingham, said Bishop Calvin Woods. Funeral services will be 11 a.m. Saturday Jan. 28 at Mount Calvary Baptist Church at 1133 Tuscaloosa Ave SW in West End, Woods said.
Weather for Eutaw, Ala. Tuesday Wednesday ThursdayPartly Cloudy90/70Chance of a Thunderstorm84/68Chance of a Thunderstorm88/66
- May 2013 (26)
- April 2013 (32)
- March 2013 (37)
- February 2013 (31)
- January 2013 (43)
- December 2012 (33)
- November 2012 (40)
- October 2012 (42)
- September 2012 (35)
- August 2012 (50)
- July 2012 (41)
- June 2012 (37)
- May 2012 (43)
- April 2012 (38)
- March 2012 (35)
- February 2012 (43)
- January 2012 (36)
- December 2011 (45)
- November 2011 (43)
- October 2011 (36)
- September 2011 (45)
- August 2011 (29)
- July 2011 (13)
- June 2011 (18)
- May 2011 (15)
- April 2011 (14)
- March 2011 (18)
- February 2011 (14)
- January 2011 (15)
- December 2010 (16)
- November 2010 (13)
- October 2010 (13)
- September 2010 (15)
- August 2010 (10)
TagsAlabama New South Coalition ANSC Bingo disbursement Black Farmer Lawsuit CEO Luther"Nat" Winn CFO Paula Bird Congresswoman Terri A. Sewell Dr. Martin Luther King Eutaw City Council Eutaw Mayor Raymond Steele Federal Emergency Management Agency ( FEMA) Federation of Southern Cooperatives /Land Assistance Fund Fund First Lady Michelle Obama George Zimmerman Greene Co. Sheriff Joe Benison Greene County Board of Education Greene County Commission Greene County Commissioner Greene County High School Greene County School System Greene County Sheriff Jonathan Benison Greene County Superintendent Dr. Emma Louie Greenetrack Greenetrack Bingo Inc John Zippert Jr. Lester Brown Mayor Hattie Edwards Mayor Pro-Tem Hattie Edwards Mayor Raymond Steele Mitt Romney NAACP Nick Underwood President Barack Obama President Obama Rev. Al Sharpton SCLC Senator Hank Sanders Superintendent Emma Louie Superintendent Isaac Atkins Supreme Court The Black Belt Community Foundation BBCF Grants Trayvon Martin Vice President Joe Biden