February 26, 1916 – June 18, 2019
Edward Johnson was born February 26, 1916 in Madison Station, Mississippi, the second of 5 brothers. He left home at the age of 17 to obtain his high school education at Tuskegee Institute since his local “colored” school only went through 8th grade. He attended 4 years of high school and 4 years of college at Tuskegee Institute as a work-study student, graduating in 1942. By graduation he had already reported for his military duty in the Army Air Corps at Tuskegee. He got permission to walk back from the base to the campus to attend his commencement ceremony and receive his BS degree. He was accepted as an aviation cadet and did well in the program, but was washed out due to strict quotas on how many pilots could graduate in each class. He was valuable enough to be assigned to stay in the pilot program as a ground school instructor. He trained the student pilots to fly by instruments using a simulator called the Link Trainer. He attained the rank of sergeant, continuing as an instructor until after the war, and was discharged in December, 1945.
After his military service Mr. Johnson pursued a career as an electrician in Atlanta. He passed the licensing exams and became the first black licensed Master Electrician in city of Atlanta. In 1947 he started his own business, Johnson and Wood Electric Company, in partnership with a fellow Tuskegee graduate, Charles Wood, Sr. Their company wired homes and businesses, did repairs, and served as a training ground for young black electricians. Upon retirement he closed the business and continued to do individual small jobs and worked with former underlings on larger projects including the wiring of the Marta train stations. He worked weekends at the Clark Atlanta University power plant for many years until illness forced him to stop at the age of 80.
Read about his incredible legacy! 102-year-old Tuskegee Airman leaving a legacy of affordable housing for Atlanta