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Colonel Stone Johnson (September 9, 1918 – January 19, 2012) was an African-American activist in the Civil Rights Movement. A railway worker and union representative by trade, he got involved in the civil rights movement in Birmingham, Alabama in the mid 1950s, working with Fred Shuttlesworth. He started a civil rights organization called the Civil Rights Guards that protected homes and business involved in the movement, usually while armed.[1][2]

Johnson was born in Lowndes County, Alabama to Fannie and Colonel Johnson. His family moved to Birmingham when he was 4. Graduating from Lincoln High School in 1939, he was hired at Louisville & Nashville Railroad Company, where he worked for nearly 40 years. He claimed to be the first black union representative for the company in Birmingham.[3]

Johnson may be best known for having helped to carry a Ku Klux Klan bomb away from Bethel Baptist Church in Birmingham, AL.[4] He also provided armed protection to nonviolent activists in Anniston, Alabama during the 1961 Freedom Rides, rescuing them from a segregationist mob.[5][6] He also served for a time as vice-president of the Birmingham chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.[7]

An oft-repeated remark of Johnson, when asked how he'd managed to protect civil rights leaders given his commitment to nonviolence, Johnson replied, "With my nonviolent .38 special."[8][9][10]

In 2011, The city of Birmingham dedicated a street in his honor.[11]


  1. ^ Frye Gaillard, Cradle of Freedom: Alabama and the Movement That Changed America (University of Alabama Press, 2004) pg 82-83
  2. ^ Lower, Thomas. "Colonel Stone Johnson dies at 93 - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports". ABC 33/40. Retrieved 2013-07-23.
  3. ^ "Birmingham civil rights activist Colonel Stone Johnson has died (slideshow) |". Retrieved 2012-01-20.
  4. ^ Gray, Jeremy. Published on January 19, 2012
  5. ^ "Excerpt: 'Freedom Riders' by RAYMOND ARSENAULT" National Public Radio
  6. ^ Frye Gaillard, Cradle of Freedom: Alabama and the Movement That Changed America (University of Alabama Press, 2004) pg 82-83
  7. ^ James W. Douglass, The Nonviolent Coming of God (Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2006), p. 27
  8. ^ Timothy B. Tyson, Blood Done Sign My Name (Crown Publishing Group, 2007) p. 70
  9. ^ Craig Werner, Higher Ground: Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Curtis Mayfield, and the Rise and Fall of American Soul (Crown Publishing Group, Dec 18, 2007)
  10. ^ Amelia Thomson-Deveaux "Armed Resistance in the Civil Rights Movement: Charles E. Cobb and Danielle L. McGuire on Forgotten History" The American Prospect, JUNE 11, 2014
  11. ^ Jeremy Gray "Birmingham civil rights activist Colonel Stone Johnson has died", January 19, 2012