Dr. Charles Johnson, Duke medical school pioneer, dies at 94

December 17, 2021 GMT

DURHAM, N.C. (AP) — Dr. Charles Johnson, the first Black faculty member in the Duke University School of Medicine and first Black physician on the university faculty, has died. He was 94.

A news release from the school says Johnson died Wednesday. A cause of death was not listed. Duke flags were lowered Friday in honor of Johnson, the school said.

On Sept. 1, 1970, Dr. Eugene A. Stead Jr., former chair of the department of medicine and physician-in-chief of Duke Hospital recommended that Johnson be appointed to assistant professor of medicine in the medical school, the news release said. The appointment was approved by Dr. James Wyngaarden, then-chair of medicine.

In 1974, Johnson was promoted to associate professor of medicine with tenure. He was promoted to full professor in 1995 before retiring in 1996.

Johnson also served on the medical school admissions committee, where he was instrumental in improving Duke’s recruiting practices to attract more diverse candidates, the news release said.

Johnson, born in Acmar, Alabama, earned a bachelor’s degree in physics from Howard University in 1953 while serving in the U.S. Air Force, rising to the rank of captain and serving as a fighter pilot. He graduated from Howard’s medical school in 1963.