Dr. Johnson was born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee, and after graduation, he attended the University of Tennessee at Martin, where he received his Bachelor of Science degree in Communication. He graduated from Memphis Theological Seminary, where he took the Master of Divinity degree and completed the Doctor of Philosophy degree in Communication at the University of Memphis. Dr. Johnson's dissertation, The Prophetic Oratory of Henry McNeal Turner, was under the direction of Michael C. Leff (2008).
Dr. Johnson is the author of No Future in this Country: The Prophetic Pessimism of Bishop Henry McNeal Turner, which won the 2021 Top Book Award for the Religious Communication Association and the National Communication Association (NCA) African American Communication and Culture Division Outstanding Book Award. He is the co-author (with Amanda Nell Edgar) of The Struggle Over Black Lives Matter and All Lives Matter (2018) which won the National Communication Association (NCA) 2019 African American Communication and Culture Division Outstanding Book Award. He is also the author of The Forgotten Prophet: Bishop Henry McNeal Turner and the African American Prophetic Tradition (2012), which also won the National Communication Association (NCA) 2013 African American Communication and Culture Division Outstanding Book Award. He is also the curator and director of the Henry McNeal Turner Project (#HMTProject), a digital archive dedicated to the writings and study of Bishop Turner.
Dr. Johnson has presented academic papers at national, regional, and state conferences winning awards at each level, and has published essays in Rhetoric and Public Affairs, Religions, Howard Journal of Communications, Southern Communication Journal, Black Theology Journal, The New York Times, Journal of Contemporary Rhetoric and the Journal of Religion and Communication. He holds membership in several national, regional, and state associations in the areas of Communication, History, African American Studies, and Religious Studies.
In addition to what many consider groundbreaking work on Bishop Turner, Dr. Johnson maintains an eclectic research agenda. Ongoing research projects explore the nexus between rhetoric, theology, and the Bible, religion and politics, social movements, Black Lives Matter, and, more recently, the history of African American public address.
Michael (Mike) C. Leff's Advisor:
Prentice A. Meador (1938-2008). "War-Time Speeches of Cordell Hull, Secretary of State: Collected and Edited with Introduction and Notes." The University of Illinois (Ph.D., 1964)
Prentice A. Meador's Advisor:
Raymond (Ray) E. Nadeau (?-2001). The Index Rhectoricus of Thomas Farnaby. The University of Michigan (Ph.D., 1950)
James H. McBurney (1905-1986). The Place of the Enthymeme in Rhetorical Theory University of Michigan (Ph.D. 1935)