Student Historian

Laura Merrill Mercer is a master’s candidate in the History Department at California State University, Fresno. Raised in Schenectady, New York, she earned her bachelor’s degree in history from Brigham Young University (1999) and a certificate in family history research from Brigham Young University-Idaho (2018). Mercer has been an online instructor for Brigham Young University-Idaho since 2020. She approached the master’s program at Fresno State determined to include previously overlooked voices in her research and writing. Her master’s thesis focuses on the life and ideology of Marie Walker Johnson, an impoverished Black woman who became a civil rights activist in Oakland, California, in the 1960s. Mercer presented her thesis at the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) conference in 2021 and the California State University, Fresno History Graduate Student Association Symposium in 2022. In addition to her work in American history and genealogical research, Mercer is a voice for foster children in her volunteer service as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA).

Marie Clara Delpit Walker Johnson (1921-1974)

Marie Walker Johnson was a Black Creole civil rights activist in Oakland, California, during the 1960s. A mother of five and a nurse, she also played a crucial role in multiple grassroots groups in the East Bay area. In these organizations, she marched, wrote letters, … Read MoreMarie Clara Delpit Walker Johnson (1921-1974)