Open House with J Chester Johnson
Poet, essayist, and non-fiction writer J. Chester Johnson speaks with host Cornelius Eady about the Elaine Race Massacre, his friendship with Sheila L. Walker—a descendant of survivors—and the power of reconciliation.
J. Chester Johnson has written extensively on race and civil rights, composing the Litany for the National Day of Repentance, when the Episcopal Church formally apologized for its role in transatlantic slavery and related evils. His recent work includes the bestseller Damaged Heritage: The Elaine Race Massacre and A Story of Reconciliation (2020), and Auden, the Psalms, and Me (2017), the story of the re-translation of the psalms in the Book of Common Prayer for which W. H. Auden and Johnson were the poets on the drafting committee. Johnson served as co-chair of the Elaine Massacre Memorial Committee, which arranged for the funding, design, and construction of a permanent, physical memorial at the centennial of the Massacre in Phillips County, Arkansas, site of the conflagration; for a hundred years, no memorial to the Massacre existed.