BlackPast.org Facebook BlackPast.org Twitter

Donate to BlackPast.org BlackPast Blog
  • African American History
  • African American History in the West
  • Global African History
  • Perspectives

NOTE: BlackPast.org will not disclose, use, give or sell any of the requested information to third parties.

8 + 10 =
Solve this simple math problem and enter the result. E.g. for 1+3, enter 4.

Shop Amazon and help BlackPast.org

Blackpast.org in the Classroom

Johnson, Kevin Maurice (1966- )

Kevin Johnson Campaigning for Mayor of Sacramento, 2008
Image Ownership: Public Domain

Kevin Johnson, Mayor of Sacramento, California, was born in California's capital city in 1966. He graduated from Sacramento High School, where he led the state in basketball scoring during his senior year, with a point average of 32.5 points. Johnson then played college basketball at the University of California at Berkeley.  While there he became the all-time leader in scoring for that varsity team.  After graduating from UC Berkeley in 1987, Johnson was drafted into the National Basketball Association (NBA).

As the seventh round draft pick, Johnson was chosen by the Cleveland Cavaliers, but was quickly traded to the Phoenix Suns in 1988, where he remained for the duration of his career in the NBA. Johnson played point guard, and with his high point-scoring, was considered by many teams as a threat. The Phoenix Suns' overall record improved with his selection and so did Johnson's performance.

During his first year with Phoenix (1988-1989), Johnson was named the NBA's most improved player.  He also competed in all-star games in 1990, 1991, and 1994 and played on the U.S. Olympic Basketball team (Dream Team II) which won a gold medal in Toronto, Canada in the 1994 World Championship of Basketball.  Kevin Johnson officially retired from the NBA on August 8, 2000 after 13 years in the league.

While Kevin Johnson was achieving success and fame in the NBA, his old Sacramento neighborhood began to deteriorate due to the rise of the crack cocaine epidemic and the accompanying gang violence.  Johnson decided to return to Sacramento to do what he could to turn around the desperate conditions which had destroyed the lives of his childhood friends and high school teammates.   He became part of an ongoing effort to reclaim his neighborhood and similar ones throughout the city.  

Johnson founded and is currently CEO of St. Hope, a non-profit community development organization he created with his former high school, Sacramento High.  Johnson and his family (he was part of the third generation of his family to attend the school) met with the Sacramento City Teachers Association and the Sacramento School Board to curb disruptive behavior and improve academic performance in the school.  St. Hope and local educators revamped the campus with $7 million in donations raised by Johnson and his friends.  They adopted a radical plan which divided the huge school into six separate schools, each with a different academic focus. He also began renovating several blocks of his old neighborhood in Oak Park, and helped create a safe community focused on art, music, and family.

Johnson's efforts garnered widespread favorable attention and in 2008 he successfully campaigned for Mayor of Sacramento.  Johnson is the 55th mayor of the city and the first African American elected into the position. His ambitious goals for Sacramento include improved public safety by adding more police officers on the streets and bringing together rival gang leaders to turn them away from violence.  Johnson also wants to improve education city-wide and boost the local economy by supporting businesses and encouraging economic growth.   

Sources:
Leanor Boulin Johnson and Robert Staples, Black Families at the Crossroads (San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2005); David L. Porter, Basketball: a Biographical Dictionary (Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing Group, 2005); http://www.kevinjohnsonformayor.com/about/bio

Contributor:

University of Washington, Seattle

Entry Categories:

Copyright 2007-2017 - BlackPast.org v3.0 NDCHost - California | blackpast@blackpast.org | Your donations help us to grow. | We welcome your suggestions. | Mission Statement

BlackPast.org is an independent non-profit corporation 501(c)(3). It has no affiliation with the University of Washington. BlackPast.org is supported in part by a grant from Humanities Washington, a state-wide non-profit organization supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the state of Washington, and contributions from individuals and foundations.