Upholding the law
Alumnus leads the way in abolishing racial divides
For many law students at the University of Georgia, receiving a high-paying job at a top firm in Atlanta after graduation sounds like a dream come true. However, Francys Johnson (JD ’04) had a different idea.
Since graduating from UGA, Johnson has not only started his own successful law firm in Statesboro, but has also made his way to the top of the Georgia chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, of which he was named president in October. Johnson says the transition from law student to civil rights advocate was a natural one.
“The law is a tool to bring order out of the chaos of human relationships. When injustice is engrained into the law, instead of being an instrument of order it becomes an instrument which inserts further chaos,” Johnson says. “That’s what attracted me to the organization: its use of the law as a tool of redressing inequality, the success it has had over the years and wanting to be a part of finishing that great work.”
Johnson received his undergraduate degree from Georgia Southern University in 2001. However, he says it was his exposure to top law students and professors at UGA and his involvement in the Pi Sigma Alpha political science honor society that gave him the foundation for a successful career in the field.
“It provided a world-class education to me. A boy from Sylvania, Ga., raised by sharecroppers,” he says. “The law school allowed me to sit and to learn with the best and the brightest from around the world, from some of the best and brightest legal minds ever produced.”
Johnson got his start in civil rights by working with NAACP community organizations near his Statesboro home. His involvement really took off in 2006 when, as the legal redress director, he fought legislation that was viewed as a violation of the Voting Rights Act. Since then, Johnson’s participation in the NAACP has shaped nearly every aspect of his professional life.
“My understanding of the law is that we can use it to create stronger communities, we can use it to create the kind of place where people can maximize their potential,” Johnson says. “The best day for America, and for Americans, is tomorrow. We are hopeful people. And the NAACP wants to be a part of that tomorrow, making America a better place for people to live, work and play.”
As president, Johnson says he will strive to realize the goals of the NAACP by addressing areas of inequality in Georgia: economic sustainability, education, health and wellness, and political representation and voting rights.
“All of these things are the promises of America’s democracy and we have a responsibility that comes to us from the Declaration of Independence, that is charged to us in the preamble to the Constitution—to make this a more perfect union,” he says. “And that’s the work of the NAACP: to make this a more perfect union, to make real the promises of America’s democracy. And we have an opportunity to do that in this century, and we should finish that great work.”