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Former Mayor Otis S. Johnson to Speak at Spring Commencement

Otis Johnson

(April 26, 2017) – Former Savannah Mayor Otis S. Johnson ’64 will serve as the keynote speaker at Armstrong’s Spring Commencement, which will begin at the Savannah Civic Center on Saturday, May 6, at 9:45 a.m.

Honored by Georgia Trend magazine as one of the “Most Influential Georgians” in 2006 and 2011, Johnson made history when he transferred to Armstrong State in 1963, becoming the first African-American student to attend and graduate from the institution. After earning an associate degree in Liberal Arts, he also became the first African-American from Savannah to enter the University of Georgia, where he earned a B.A. in History. In addition, he holds a Master of Social Work from Clark Atlanta University and a Ph.D. in Social Welfare from Brandeis University.

In 2003, Dr. Johnson was elected as Savannah’s mayor and reelected in 2007. During that time, he also provided leadership for the creation of the Step Up Savannah, Inc. poverty-reduction initiative and Healthy Savannah.

A recipient of Armstrong’s 2005 Distinguished Alumnus and 2010 Notable Alumnus Awards, Johnson has received numerous national awards for public service and served on national advisory groups with a focus on school and social service reform, community building and youth development. Currently, he serves as Scholar-In-Residence and Professor Emeritus at Savannah State University.

His newly released memoir, From the 'N Word' to Mr. Mayor: Experiencing the American Dream, recalls his life throughout the Civil Rights movement in Savannah and beyond. 

For more information on Armstrong’s Spring Commencement, please visit

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Brandon Quillian, Ph.D.
Teaching since: 2011