Francys Johnson is a lifelong Georgian. He’s now a practicing lawyer, minister, and the president of the Georgia NAACP – the state’s oldest and largest civil rights organization – but Francys was once a young boy sitting in a special education classroom in a Georgia public school. He was one of many who were caught in a discriminatory education system where students, primarily students of color or economically disadvantaged students, were forced to take special education classes, not based on assessment, but in order to increase funding to the school. “Teachers and administrators looked at me, at the color of my skin, and said I couldn’t succeed in a basic classroom,” he recalled. Ultimately, the NAACP took up Francys’ case, and he won the right to participate in advanced learning classes.
For Francys, the shared values of justice, equality, and opportunity are rooted in the founding ideals of this country, and now, the movement to outlaw discrimination against LGBTQ people. “The fact that we are human beings who come from the same love, same grace, same mercies means each of us possess an inherent worth and dignity—just as human beings,” he said. “Nothing else needs to be added to that. I cannot want for myself something that I would deny to someone else.”