Friends of John H. Johnson Museum, Curators of John H. Johnson Day and John H. Johnson Museum and Educational Center Arkansas City (Desha County) will observe the statewide holiday on November 1, from 6 p.m. until 7 p.m.

Three individuals will be recognized for exemplifying John H. Johnson’s leadership, Jesse L. Kearney, a Pine Bluff attorney; Walter Leavy, writer and former Ebony magazine managing editor; and Dr. Barbara A. Lofton, Assistant Dean, Dr. Barbara A. Lofton Office of Diversity & Inclusion, Sam M. Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas.

Awarding winning journalist, Helaine Williams will host the virtual observance and a special musical tribute will be performed by trumpeter, Rodney Block.

The event will also include a virtual tour of John H. Johnson Museum.

John H. Johnson Day was established in honor of John H. Johnson on April 16, 2019, during the 92nd General Assembly. Johnson was the founder, chairman, publisher and CEO of Johnson Publishing Company and the iconic Ebony and Jet magazines.

Attend the John H. Johnson Day virtual observance HERE. More information on John H. Johnson Museum and John H. Johnson Day, can be found HERE.

Individuals to be recognized for exemplifying John H. Johnson’s leadership:

Walter Leavy

Walter Leavy is an award-winning writer and editor who, until 2009, was a member of the EBONY magazine staff for 29 years, serving the last 12 years as the publication’s managing editor. He handled the magazine’s day-to-day operations, including monitoring EBONY’s production schedule. During his tenure, he worked in several other positions, including associate editor, production editor, senior staff editor and senior editor.

Over the years, Leavy interviewed some of the biggest names who made their mark in various arenas, including Muhammad Ali, Denzel Washington, Halle Berry, Oprah Winfrey and Michael Jordan. He also covered political, civil and human rights activities throughout the United States, the Caribbean and Africa. Currently, the Memphis native is president of Leavy Communications, a freelance editorial service that specializes in the art of writing and editing for clients who want to present written material that’s compelling and effectively delivers a unique message to a targeted audience. Additionally, Leavy is editor of Showtime Chicago, an online magazine that
focuses on celebrities and entertainment in the Chicago area. Further, he is writing and editing a children’s book that focuses on boys who are at the age of discovery––where they are beginning to view girls in a different way.

The graduate of the University of Memphis is a member of the National Association of Black Journalists, a member of the International Women’s Sports Hall of Fame Selection Committee, a former member of the American Foundation for the Blind National Technology Board and is a former member of the board of trustees for the American Foundation for the Blind. The University of Memphis has honored him with the Charles E. Thornton Outstanding Journalism Alumni Award and the Distinguished Alumni Award, the university’s most prestigious award presented to its alumni.

Leavy resides with his wife, Elyse, in Glen Ellyn, Illinois.

Barbara Lofton

Dr. Barbara Alexander Lofton grew-up in Jackson, Mississippi with her three sisters and one brother. She received her Ed.D. from Grambling State University after graduating from Jackson State University and the University of Iowa with B. S. and M.A., degrees respectively. She also participated in the Central Regional Leadership Forum for Women Administrators: Advancing Women’s Leadership sponsored by the American Council on Educations and the Management Development Institute at Harvard.

For more than 20 years Dr. Lofton served as the Director of Diversity & Inclusion for the Sam M. Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas. In 2019, Dr. Lofton was promoted to Assistant Dean for Diversity & Inclusion. In 2020, her colleagues re-named the office to the Dr. Barbara A. Lofton Office of Diversity & Inclusion and created a scholarship fund for future students.

While in this position, she serves both as an administrator and assistant professor. During her tenure in these positions, Dr. Lofton has evolved into a dynamic leader at the University of Arkansas-as well as in the Fayetteville community and the state of Arkansas. She is widely known for her ability to collaborate effectively with others, both in teaching and non-teaching roles here at the university as well as the surrounding community. Prior to coming to the University of Arkansas, Dr. Lofton taught at University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff and Grambling State University.

She has written and received several grants to support minority outreach and scholarship initiatives within the Walton College totaling $300 million. To continue this level of commitment, Dr. Lofton identified 4 priorities which she continuously seeks fund. The four priority areas are: (1) scholarships, (2) pre-collegiate programs, (3) global engagement fund, and (4) an enrichment fund.

During her tenure in the Walton College of Business, she has been a leader in establishing several different outreach programs and developed new courses in diversity.

Dr. Lofton has received numerous awards for her leadership, commitment, dedication to excellence, and education such as the Northwest Arkansas Martin Luther King Lifetime Achievement Award in 2014, University of Arkansas Diversity Team Award and Champion for Diversity for the Northwest Arkansas in 2009 and High-Performance Team Award for the Walton College in 2007 just to name a few.

Her leadership expands beyond the walls of the University of Arkansas. Dr. Lofton participated in the Central Regional Leadership Forum for Women Administrators: Advancing Women’s Leadership sponsored by the American Council on Educations. She was actively with the Office of Women with the American Council on Education on women’s issues. Additionally, Dr. Lofton attended the Management Development Institute at Harvard University. She is very active with the American Association of Blacks in Higher Education (AABHE) where she serves as the President of this national organization 2011-2013. Under her leadership, Dr. Lofton has expanded services for the AABHE membership: created the position of Vice President of Research; acquired an exclusive for members to submit articles in the Winter Issue of the National Journal of Urban Education and Practice, an AABHE book contract, and created the Research and Publications Boot Camp to help faculty members prepare for tenure and promotion and to allow the Black research voice to be heard.

Her research interests are focused on the area of business with an emphasis on: the experiences of African American deans in PWIs; the experiences of minority doctoral students, and the status of diversity in colleges/schools of business.

Dr. Lofton resides in Fayetteville with her husband, Dr. Jon Lofton, and is the mother of Torri, Norman and Anastasia and the proud grandmother of 3 children.


Jesse L. Kearney

Jesse L. Kearney was born Gould, Arkansas on January 14, 1950. He was admitted to bar, 1976 in Arkansas. He was also admitted to practice before U.S. Supreme Court; U.S. Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit; U.S. District Courts, Eastern and Western Districts of Arkansas, Eastern District of Texas, Northern District of Mississippi and District of Columbia. He is a 1976 graduate of the the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville where he received a B.A. in political science. Legal education, University of Arkansas School of Law at Fayetteville (J.D., 1976).

He was Assistant Attorney General, Arkansas, 1977-79; Administrative Assistant to Governor of Arkansas, 1979-01; Arkansas State Claims Commission, 1981-82; Circuit Court Judge, Eleventh Circuit, Western Division, Jefferson-Lincoln County, Arkansas, 1989-91; Class Action Litigation Experience includes Pigford v.Glickman, Black Farmers Class Action Lawsuit USDC, DC #97-1 978: In Re Black Farmers Discrimination Lawsuit, USDC, DC, Misc. #08MC0511; USDA Hispanic & Women Farmers/Ranchers Claims Administration. Member: Arkansas, American and National Bar Associations; W. Harold Flowers Law Society.