Derrick Johnson serves as President and CEO of the NAACP, a title he has held since October of 2017. President Johnson formerly served as vice chairman of the NAACP National Board of Directors, as well as state president for the Mississippi State Conference NAACP. A longstanding member and leader of the NAACP, Mr. Johnson has helped guide the Association through a period of re-envisioning and reinvigoration.
Under President Johnson’s leadership, the NAACP has undertaken such efforts as the 2018 “Log Out” Facebook Campaign, pressuring Facebook after reports of Russian hackers targeting African Americans, the Jamestown to Jamestown Partnership, marking the 400th year enslaved Africans first touched the shores of America, and the 2020 We are Done Dying Campaign, exposing the inequities embedded into the American healthcare system and the country at large.
As the Biden Administration took office in 2021, President Johnson led the charge in calling for a Cabinet-level position focused squarely on advancing our nation’s longstanding issue of racial justice. President Biden signed an Executive Order establishing an interagency effort to eliminate systemic racial barriers and ensuring federal policies are rooted in equity, optimizing the well-being of all in public policies.
President Johnson also continues to be on the frontlines on some of the most pressing civil rights issues of our time, calling out Virginia Governor Ralph Northam for his use of Blackface, condemning the burning of Black churches in Tennessee and Louisiana, testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee in opposition to Attorney General William Barr’s nomination, and overseeing the NAACP’s vote to impeach President Donald J. Trump at the 110th National Convention in Detroit.
President Johnson elevated the Association’s visibility and voice as we called for a national response to the coronavirus pandemic that was informed by existing racial disparities in health care outcomes, access, coverage and services, as well as the disparate impact of COVID-19 on African Americans and other people of color.
Recognizing the critical importance of quality health care, he has long advocated for expanded Medicaid eligibility, affordable health insurance options, and investment in community-based health care infrastructure through a strong network of equitably-located, well-resourced community health centers.
Born in Detroit, Mr. Johnson attended Tougaloo College in Jackson, MS. He then received his JD from the South Texas College of Law in Houston, TX. Mr. Johnson has also furthered his training through fellowships with the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, the George Washington University School of Political Management, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He has served as an annual guest lecturer at Harvard Law School, lending his expertise to Professor Lani Guinier’s course on social movements, and as an adjunct professor at Tougaloo College.
Mr. Johnson is a veteran activist who has dedicated his career to defending the rights and improving the lives of Mississippians. As State President of the NAACP Mississippi State Conference, he led critical campaigns for voting rights and equitable education. He successfully managed two bond referendum campaigns in Jackson, MS that brought $150 million in school building improvements and $65 million towards the construction of a new convention center, respectively. As a regional organizer at the Jackson-based non-profit, Southern Echo, Inc., Mr. Johnson provided legal, technical, and training support for communities across the South. President Johnson is frequently featured on CNN, MSNBC, CBS, ABC and many others, advocating on behalf of the Black community and all those who are affected by systemic oppression and prejudice.