Alabama Not Just Football: 30 Amazing People Who Were Built By Bama

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Frank Johnson

Frank Johnson was a state federal judge from Haleyville, AL. He graduated from the University Of Alabama School Of Law in 1943. While at Alabama Law, Frank Johnson befriended future Alabama governor George Wallace. The two would meet frequently as adversaries at the peak of their respective careers. After graduation, he served in the Army in Europe during World War II.

After the war he went into private law practice in Jasper. He managed the “Veterans for Eisenhower” group in Alabama during the 1952 Presidential election. During Eisenhower’s term, Johnson was appointed as a US District Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama. He received a recess appointment from President Eisenhower to become a federal judge. He took his oath just before his 37th birthday and became the youngest federal judge in the country. Johnson served as Judge of the US District Court for the Middle District of Alabama from 1955-1979.

While serving in Montgomery in the 1960s and 70s, Johnson became one of the faces of the Civil Rights Movement in the south. He famously ordered Governor George Wallace to allow the Selma to Montgomery march. He was a frequent defender of voting rights and made decisions to uphold the “one man, one vote” principle stated in the state’s constitution. Johnson also ordered integration of Montgomery public transportation, Dannelly Field’s airport facilities in Montgomery, and the Montgomery YMCA. He also mandated the first statewide desegregation of public schools.

In 1979, Frank Johnson was inducted into the Alabama Academy of Honor. He was the 1993 winner of the American Bar Association’s Thurgood Marshall Award. In 1995, President Bill Clinton presented Judge Johnson with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

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