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Black History Month Profile: Jason Miccolo Johnson

Shannon Royster   


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Jason Miccolo Johnson’s photojournalism has allowed him to be an eyewitness to history. He’s met and photographed many of the most notable people of this generation including those significant to black history.

“I remember having a warm conversation with Nelson Mandela when he appeared at the freedom forum,” said Johnson. “And like everybody else he likes to joke. He was a very gracious guy, and he loves to charm the women, so you form instant bonds based upon the common things of humanity.”

Johnson has even met and photographed some of his own personal heroes. “Muhammed Ali is the only picture I ever put up on my wall and in my bedroom,” said Johnson. “He’s probably one of the most memorable persons I’ve ever met, and not just one time, but dozens of times. I’ve photographed Ali at least 20 or 25 times.”

Johnson has also contributed photos to 45 books, four films, a music video, and more than 65 magazines. Some of his photos are now in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.

“One of my most famous photos is of Dr. Dorothy Height meeting with Thurgood Marshall in Justice Marshall’s chambers,” Johnson said. “That photo represents 150 years of history, particularly in civil rights and human rights and law.”

His recent focus has been sharing his knowledge and mentoring the next generation by instructing students in the Department of Journalism and Mass Communications at Savannah State University from 2015 to 2022.

“The benefit and the joy of having been a professional photographer for 50 years, is the fact that I get to meet people I wouldn’t normally meet,” Johnson said. “I can go places I would not normally go, and document history which I think is so important.”

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