Washington, Johnny 1946-

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WASHINGTON, Johnny 1946-


Born June 27, 1946, in Gainesville, AL; son of Addie (a farmer and carpenter) and Maude (Robinson) Washington; married Loutisha Bell (in nursing), June 16, 1973; children: Latanya, Laurie, Johnny, Jr. Ethnicity: "African-American." Education: Saint Xavier College, B.A., 1972; Stanford University, M.A., 1976, Ph.D., 1978. Religion: Baptist.


Office—Department of Philosophy, Southwest Missouri State University, 901 South National, Springfield, MO 65804; fax: 417-836-4775. E-mail—[email protected].


Tuskegee University, Tuskegee, AL, assistant professor of philosophy, 1976-79; Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY, assistant professor of philosophy, 1979-84; Tennessee State University, Nashville, associate professor of philosophy and religious studies, 1984-85; University of Tennessee, Martin, associate professor of philosophy and religious studies, 1985-88; Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, associate professor of philosophy, 1988-93, chair of Minority Affairs Committee, 1988-92, and Ethnic Studies Committee, 1988-93, director of Ethnic Studies Program, 1991-93; Southwest Missouri State University, Springfield, professor of African-American studies and philosophy, 1993—, coordinator of African-American Studies Program, 1995-2001. Guest lecturer at other institutions, including College of Charleston, Spelman College; Dyersburg State Community College; Indiana State University at Terre Haute; LeMoyne-Owen College; Earlham College; University of South Florida, National University of Nicaragua; University of Central America; and Gujarat University, Ahmedabad, India. Martin Tutorial/Literacy Program, founder and board chair, 1986-88. Appeared in television documentaries, including Destiny, the Ideal of Unity, broadcast by Ozarks Public Television, 1999, and episodes of the series Close-Up, Ozarks Public Television, 1998, 2002; guest on other media programs; also appeared in a documentary videotape on the author's Vietnam combat experience, for Veteran History Project, Library of Congress. Institute for Applied Philosophy, Fort Lauderdale, FL, founding board member, 1989-90; Pan-African Movement USA, board member, 1992—; Community Foundation of the Ozarks, board member, 2000—; United Way of Springfield, MO, board member, 2000—. Military service: U.S. Army, Infantry, 1965-68; served in Vietnam; became staff sergeant; received a Vietnam Service Medal with two Bronze Service Stars, a Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal, a Sharpshooter (Rifle) Badge, a National Defense Service Medal, a Combat Infantryman Badge, and an Expert 106mm Recoilless Rifle Badge.


International Development Ethics Association (member of board of directors, 1989-94), International Society for Cultural Studies, North American Society for Social Philosophy, American Philosophical Association, Phi Kappa Phi.


Fellowship for Minority Students, Ford Foundation, 1972-76; grant, National Endowment for the Humanities, 1979; grant, End World Hunger Foundation, 1991-92.


Alain Locke and Philosophy: A Quest for Cultural Pluralism, Greenwood Press (Westport, CT), 1986.

A Journey into the Philosophy of Alain Locke, Greenwood Press (Westport, CT), 1994.

Evolution, History and Destiny: Letters to Alain Locke (1886-1954) and Others, Peter Lang Publishing (New York, NY), 2003.

Contributor to books, including Philosophy Born of Struggle, Kendall/Hunt Publishing (Dubuque, IA), 1983; American Mosaic: Selected Readings in America's Multicultural Heritage, edited by Young I. Song and Eugene C. Kim, California State University Press, 1993. Contributor to periodicals, including Renaissance Universal, Take 5, and Journal of Social Philosophy. Guest editor, Explorations in Ethnic Studies, 1990.


Eclipsed Destiny: The Life of Dr. Johnny Washington (tentative title), an autobiographical screenplay.


Johnny Washington told CA: "Alabama is the state in which the civil rights movement originated. Alabama also was the birthplace of the Civil War Confederacy and played a role in its conclusion. On May 9, 1865, Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest surrendered his army in Gainesville, Alabama, where a monument was erected in Forrest's honor. He went on to become a founding member of the Ku Klux Klan, which also had its origin near Gainesville. As a youth, my job included mowing the grounds of General Forrest's monument. I was born in Gainesville in 1946, one year after the end of World War II and during the dawn of the civil rights era.

"One of my childhood influences was Booker T. Washington, the former slave who founded Tuskegee University in 1881, a man who accepted racial segregation. My elementary schoolteacher said that Mr. Washington was the greatest Black man who heretofore had lived, and thus it was unlikely that any Black man would surpass him in greatness. I regarded my teacher's comment as a challenge, to outdo Mr. Washington as a thinker. I believe my teacher's comment set me on my path to explore the notion of human destiny and to express my results in literary form. Also, I once heard my mother say that one can change the world in two ways: as a writer with a pen or as a warrior with a sword. She said that her childhood dream was to become a writer, but due to the fact that she was born and reared in a racially oppressive environment, her dreams were largely denied. I wanted to become a writer when I grew up. In pursuing my writing vocation, it may well be the case that I am trying to fulfill my mother's wishes.

"When I finished high school in Alabama during the summer of 1964, I moved to Chicago, where race riots were occurring. I witnessed the riots on the west and south sides. That same summer I met Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at a civil rights rally. I desired to follow his teachings that were partly in opposition to those of Booker T. Washington. However, a little over a year later, I was carrying an M-60 machine gun in Vietnam, where I fought with the first infantry division.

"While sitting in foxholes in Vietnam, I had ample time to reflect thoroughly on the notion of destiny, along with what at the time I construed as its ingredients: God, life, death, iced water, and survival. On at least one occasion, I was close enough to the enemy to engage him in hand-to-hand combat. It was around this time that I came to appreciate the full range of the U.S. arsenal, including tanks, artillery pieces, and helicopter gun ships. Though I stayed in the military only three years, I was rapidly promoted and then nominated to attend the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. I declined.

"When I was honorably discharged from the army, I enrolled in what came to be known as Malcolm X Community College at Chicago, where I became associated with the Black Panther Party. I also became involved in the Students for a Democratic Society, where we devoted time to reading the works of Trotsky or Lenin and discussed other revolutionary matters. I subsequently distanced myself from each movement and instead concentrated on pursuing my education. In 1970 Saint Xavier University in Chicago invited me to apply for admission. The year I was admitted, the university enrolled some 900 women, among whom there were no more than ten African-American women, and eleven African-American males. There I was taught how to analyze closely various philosophic texts, including Plato's Republic and David Hume's A Treatise of Human Nature. On my own, I began reading Philosophy and Opinion of Marcus Garvey by the Jamaican-born social reformer. A classmate's condescending remark that Garvey's views did not measure up to academic philosophy turned out for me to be a blessing in disguise. Her behavior prompted me to write my first book focusing on African-American philosophy so as to present to the world a work worthy of the name African-American philosophy. Since then I have written three books and many articles on the topic.

"In 1972 I enrolled in Stanford University's doctoral program in philosophy. There, my dissertation advisor, the late Philips H. Rhinelander, encouraged me to devote attention to examining the works of Karl Jaspers and Alfred N. Whitehead. He felt that these were among the two greatest philosophers of the twentieth century. I accepted his advice, and the respective views of Jaspers and Whitehead constitute the centrality of my destiny model. I am especially interested in their notions of transcendence. Inasmuch as my mother was a devout Christian, I believe she would have found acceptable the philosophic notion of transcendence.

"Destiny, the controlling theme, is defined as an ideal of transcendent unity toward which a people strives in successive generations. Destiny includes four modalities: the ethnic, the national, the world, and the cosmic. Destiny is both immanent and transcendent, the one pertaining to the actual, the other to the cosmic. Part One focuses on the first three modalities, devoting specific attention to the ethnic experiences of African/African Americans, their history, identity, and appellations (such as African American, Black, Negritude, and the novel appellation Africantude). Another novel term explored is Destinicity, a synthesis of both the destiny and ethnic ideals of a people. Although focusing on the experiences of Africans and African Americans, the destiny model is applicable to all people. In Part Two, the cosmic mode, the physical-biological universe, is described as having undergone unique phases of evolution: robotic evolution is now occurring and will give rise to a new artificial 'being' to which Destinicity ethics is applicable. Destiny pertains to groups, that is, human groupings; 'fate' is applicable to the isolated individual. I distinguished between transcendent destiny and immanent destiny. If the former pertains to ideal, transcendent unity, the latter pertains to the marketplace and the political realms that are characterized by disunity, conflict, diversity, and strife.

"I am now collaborating with Dr. Richard J. Douthart, whose area of specialization is biophysical chemistry, to explore some problems in the science of evolution that were alluded to in my book Evolution, History, and Destiny: Letters to Alain Locke (1886-1954) and Others. A particular problem that we will explore fully is the role that the principle of transcendence or anticipation plays in the evolutionary process.

"I regard myself as part-time writer and full-time teacher of philosophy. I have been teaching philosophy to university students since 1973. Because of my teaching duties, it is difficult for me to find adequate time to devote to writing books or to engage in any other major writing task. Thus, I tend to take advantage of holidays, weekends, or summer months to write books. Some of the themes or problems that I explore in my writing, especially those pertaining to ethnicity, race, or destiny, are drawn from my experience of growing up or living in a racially divided society. A pivotal theme of the destiny model is the notion of unity or harmony. Inspired by the teachings of Booker T. Washington and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. since my youth, I wanted to develop a model that would allow the United States (and the world) to approximate the ideals of unity and social justice.

"I am currently working on ways to apply the destiny model at the practical level to address some of the problems, including violence, that many youths suffer or perpetrate. The destiny model hinges on what I call a caring ethic inspired by some feminist ethicists. Thus I wish to urge parents, educators, and legislators that a step in the direction of reducing violence among youths includes making a greater effort to allow the attitude of caring to permeate our schools and homes."



American Studies, fall, 1995, Tommy Lee Lott, review of A Journey into the Philosophy of Alain Locke, p. 206.

Black Issues in Higher Education, December, 1990.

Ethics, January, 1996, Emmett L. Bradbury, review of A Journey into the Philosophy of Alain Locke, pp. 501-502.

Journal of Black Studies, June, 1990, Leonard Harris, review of Alain Locke and Philosophy: A Quest for Cultural Pluralism, pp. 487-489.

Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society, spring, 1987, James Gouinlock, review of Alain Locke and Philosophy, pp. 322-327; spring, 1995, Bobby R. Dixon, review of A Journey into the Philosophy of Alain Locke, pp. 429-436.

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