Louvenia Johnson, one of the founders of The Milwaukee Times Weekly Newspaper and the benefactor of the journalism college scholarship fund that bears her name, passed away on Wednesday, February 27, 2008, due to complications following a stroke. She had been a resident of the Millway Healthcare Center on West Mill Road for two years. She was 96 years old.
Mrs. Johnson was known in the community as a woman of faith, strength and integrity, always willing and available to offer a kind word of hope and sound advice. She was an astute businesswoman, communicator and grassroots activist who lived her belief of helping others less fortunate than herself.
Trained as a licensed practical nurse, she moved to Milwaukee in 1939 with her husband, the late Paul Johnson, from her hometown of Dermott, Arkansas. In addition to working in healthcare, she also worked in the social service arena, serving as executive director of Project Focal Point, an agency serving both youth and elder adults on Milwaukee’s north side.
In 1981 as a retiree, she and three other Milwaukeeans – Nathan Conyers, Lynda Jackson-Conyers, and the late Luther Golden – established a weekly newspaper devoted to church news within the city’s African American faith community dubbed, “The Christian Times.” Within its first year of publication, the paper grew in appeal to cover more general community news and was renamed The Milwaukee Times Weekly Newspaper, with The Christian Times remaining as a standing feature section to this day.
In 1985, Mrs. Johnson and her publishing team launched the Black Excellence Awards program, as a way to pay tribute to the good works of ordinary people from Milwaukee’s black community who were accomplishing extraordinary things, yet going unnoticed. The awards program observes its 29th year on February 28, 2014 and has honored more than 800 local citizens engaged in various endeavors that have benefited all of Milwaukee.
At the third Black Excellence Awards program on February 27, 1988, Mrs. Johnson established The Louvenia Johnson Journalism Scholarship Fund, initially started with her retirement funds from Social Security, to assist college-bound high school graduates who wished to pursue careers in print and broadcast journalism.
To date, more than $500,000 has been awarded to area students by the scholarship, which is now a 501-c-3, nonprofit, charitable organization under the IRS. Scholarship recipients include Jamal Abdul-Alim, former urban affairs reporter for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel; and Silvia Acevedo, former news reporter for WTMJ-TV/Channel 4 in Milwaukee.
Mrs. Johnson is survived by her sister, Mrs. Algenora Davenport, as well as a host of nieces, nephews and other loved ones.