Robert Lee Johnson, local history lecturer and founding member of the Compton 125 Historical Society, shares his knowledge about the contributions that the black community has made to Southern California in “Notable Southern Californians in Black History.”
“My first clue to the world of California history came on a ninth-grade field trip,” Johnson said. “It was an eye-opening experience that let me know there was more to California history than building a mission out of sugar cubes.”
Beginning with black Pioneers in Spanish California and ending with modern trailblazers, Johnson highlights the likes of Nathan Harrison, Arnett Hartsfield, Odessa Cox, Miriam Matthews and many others for the changes they have helped make in Southern California.
The stories of freed slaves, the exclusion of black children from public schools, black lieutenants and military officials and reverends were shared in the book. These stories not only place a spotlight on the black community’s contributions, but also give readers with the opportunity to compare and contrast their experience in California alongside the experiences of those mentioned in the book.
“I began to understand that history had been made all around me,” Johnson said. “I began to understand that I was not taught local history, and it was very interesting.”
Johnson is also the author of “Images of America: Compton” and is featured in the documentaries “The Streets of Compton” and “Fire on the Hill.”
In addition to being an author, Johnson is a member of the History Council and past chairman of the Projects Committee at the California African American Museum.
He hopes to spark curiosity within readers about the contributions, stories, struggles and victories of the black community in California history.
“Notable Southern Californians in Black History” is available for $13.19 (paperback) and $11.09 on Kindle and Amazon.com