A 34-year-old civil rights attorney from Statesboro was elected president of the Georgia State Conference NAACP Saturday at the Columbus Convention & Trade Center.
The election of Francys Johnson on the third day of the National Association of the Advancement of Colored People’s 71st Annual State Conference ends the eight-year tenure of Columbus resident Edward DuBose.
“I’m humble and also exited about the challenge,” Johnson said. “Georgia is ready to move forward.”
The day stirred many emotions for DuBose who served 15 years with the NAACP. He was branch president for seven years before spending the last eight as state conference president.
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“It’s emotional to do something you have loved for 15 years, with seven years as branch president in this community and eight years at the Georgia State Conference,” said DuBose, 55. “By the grace of God, I received the respect of the city of Columbus.”
As Johnson takes over leadership of the state conference, he said the demographics of the state is changing.
“If we are going to compete as a global force in the world, we need the best education, best economic development plan, the best criminal justice system and the best universities and colleges,” he said. “That doesn’t just benefit African-Americans, that benefits all Americans.”
In the days ahead, Johnson said there is a spirit that has awakened in the recent events of Trayvon Martin and in the wake of the George Zimmerman verdict of not guilty of second degree-murder of the unarmed teen.
“Our young people are clamoring to join our organization so we have to take the necessary steps to organize ourselves internally so we can effectively serve this present age,” he said.
Johnson is a native of Sylvania, Ga., the son of a share cropper and maid. He was educated in the public school system and graduated from Georgia Southern University. He received a degree from the University of Georgia School of Law. In addition to his practice in Statesboro, he is the pastor of two churches.
Johnson has been active in the NAACP in Bulloch County. In 2006, he was appointed as Southeast region director of the National NAACP and later served as executive director of the Georgia State Conference.
He is married to Meca Renee Williams and they have two sons, Thurgood Joshua Johnson and Frederick Douglass Caleb Johnson.
With new leadership, DuBose said he will continue to serve on the national NAACP board four times a year, but running across the state has ended. “It’s time to focus on business and focus on family,” he said. “God has called me to the ministry. I now have time to do God’s work.”