Judge Clifton Earl Johnson, age 67, of Charlotte North Carolina, departed this life on June 25, 2009 at Mission Memorial Hospital in Asheville, North Carolina.
Born in Williamston, NC on December 9, 1941, Judge Johnson or “Clift” was one of nine children born to Charlie Mack and Willie Ann McNair Johnson. He was a graduate of the former E.J. Hayes High School of Williamston. He earned his undergraduate degree and Doctor of Jurisprudence (J.D.) from North Carolina Central University.
In 1969, he made history in being the first African American hired as an Assistant State Prosecutor for North Carolina since the 19th century. He subsequently became the first African American District Court Judge of Mecklenburg County in 1969. Judge Johnson was North Carolina’s first African American Chief District Court Judge in 1974 and the first African-American Resident Superior Court Judge for North Carolina in 1977. In 1978 he was one of two African-Americans first elected to a statewide office in North Carolina. He was appointed to the North Carolina Court of Appeals in 1982. He rose to the rank of Senior Associate Judge of the North Carolina Court of Appeals. While on the Appellate Court, Judge Johnson served as the state’s first African-American Chairman of the North Carolina Judicial Standards Commission. He retired from the bench at the end of 1996. In May 2008, he again became part of the judiciary as a Recall Judge of the state’s Court of Appeals and as a North Carolina Emergency Superior Court Judge.
For those who are unaware of the hard work, perseverance, honor, courage and integrity of this man, one only need look as far as the minions that he has nurtured. His children, grandchildren and all of those he touched during his lifetime. This is all a part of his legacy.
He was preceded in death by his loving wife of 43 years, Brenda Joyce Johnson. He is survived by his children: Yulonda Ervin, (Jeff), Clifton Johnson , II (Jennifer), Khiva Johnson and Understanding Knowledge Allah Ali (Veronica) all of Charlotte, NC; nine grandchildren, Jeffrey and Olivia Ervin, Clifton III and Sydney Johnson, Brya Adams, Queen Dezire Earth, Understanding Born- King Allah, Knowledge Savior Allah and Victorious Love Earth , all of Charlotte, NC; sisters, Sylvia Blount of Brooklyn, NC and Constance Finch (Anthony) of Monroe, NC; brother Kenneth Johnson (Mary) of Williamston, NC; sister-in-law Cheryl Johnson of Greensboro, NC; mother-in-law, Hattie Wilson McClain of Charlotte, NC; one aunt, one uncle and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, friends.
Visitation is Tuesday, June 30, 2009, from 5 p.m. – 8 p.m. at Alexander Funeral Home, 1424 Statesville Ave., Charlotte NC, 28206. Memorial Service will be held Wednesday, July 1, 2009 at 12 p.m. at Mt. Carmel Baptist Church, 7237 Tuckaseegee Rd., Charlotte NC, 28214.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Clifton Johnson Endowment or Scholarship Fund at North Carolina Central University Law School,
P.O. Box 1431, Durham, NC, 27702; 919-530-5386; www.nccu.edu/law.
Alexander Funeral Home is serving the family.
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