In Memoriam: Celebrating the Life of Dr. Tobe Johnson, Scholar of African American Mayoral Politics

Recognizing an Iconic Life: Morehouse College Mourns the Passing and Celebrates the Life of Dr. Tobe Johnson

By Morehouse College

Morehouse College celebrates the life and impact of Dr. Tobe Johnson ’54, professor emeritus and a pillar of the institution, during his legendary tenure as the institution’s longest-serving faculty member. Dr. Johnson was associated with Morehouse College for over seventy years as a student, alumnus, faculty member, and administrator.

The faculty icon taught at Morehouse for 59 years before retiring in 2018 from his role as Avalon professor and chair of the political science department. He taught courses on American politics, urban management, and policy analysis. Perhaps most notably, Dr. Johnson created and taught PSC 253: Scope and Methods of Political Science for over 50 years. Himself, a 1954 graduate of Morehouse, Dr. Johnson mentored scores of fellow Morehouse men, reaching beyond his classroom to help students grow from young men into impactful leaders. Among his students was Jeh Johnson ’79, who would become the U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security, Randall L. Woodfin ’03, the youngest mayor ever elected in Birmingham, Ala., and a young Maynard H. Jackson Jr. ’56, who would use the knowledge imparted under Dr. Johnson’s tutelage to become Atlanta’s first black mayor. He served as a key advisor on Jackson’s 1973 campaign. Because of his impact on the city and the nation, October 21, 2019, was proclaimed Dr. Tobe Johnson Day in the city of Atlanta.

Read the full contribution on Morehouse College website.


Dr. Johnson was a longtime member of APSA, joining in 1958. He was an inaugural member of the APSA Committee on the Status of Blacks in the Profession from 1969 – 1970 and member of the APSA Administrative Committee, 1970. Johnson was also a member of numerous sections, including Public Administration, Urban Politics, and Race, Ethnicity and Politics, among others.

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