JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – As Jacksonville looks at the possibility of renaming several schools in the city that have names tied to the Confederacy, one City Councilman is pushing for the name of Earl Johnson to be placed on a school.
Johnson was an African American city leader who was involved in a lot of local and national history, particularly in the 1960s.
Johnson’s name is still mentioned at City Hall. He was on the City Council in the ’60s and was the first African American to join the Jacksonville Bar Association. And that’s just the start of his lengthy biography, which ties to Martin Luther King Jr.
These are some of the reasons why current City Councilman Matt Carlucci wants to see a Jacksonville school named after Johnson.
“I’m just trying to put Earl Johnson’s name out there as somebody who is one of Jacksonville’s great statesman and great Americans. He was a Korean War veteran, an advisor to President John Kennedy. He represented Jacksonville in many desegregation courts. And also, as well, when MLK would come to Florida, Earl Johnson was his attorney,” Carlucci told News4Jax on Sunday.
Carlucci is floating the idea now in light of the push to rename multiple schools around town that are named for members of the Confederacy. Carlucci said Johnson could realistically have been Jacksonville’s first mayor back when the city decided to consolidate in the late ’60s.
“Earl Johnson gave up the opportunity to probably be Jacksonville’s first Black mayor and instead supported consolidation. Because if the old city limits had stayed intact, he would have become mayor in all likelihood, but the city would have gone bankrupt, so they needed to consolidate to pull in taxes to make the city and county afloat,” Carlucci said.
Carlucci said he has contacted the Duval County Public Schools superintendent, the head of the school board and the mayor about this proposal.
Right now, Carlucci hasn’t selected a specific school. That will be determined at a later date.