Late Television Reporter to Receive Manship School’s Courage and Justice Award
BATON ROUGE – Buddy C. “Bob” Johnson will posthumously receive the LSU Manship School of Mass Communication’s second Courage and Justice Award on Tuesday, April 17, at 2 p.m. in the school’s Holliday Forum.
Johnson worked at WBRZ-TV in Baton Rouge from 1964 to Jan. 10, 1972, when he was severely beaten while covering a downtown civil rights protest against racial discrimination that briefly turned into a violent riot when police moved in to disperse the crowd. Five persons were killed and 31 injured, including Johnson, who was dragged away from the scene by his cameraman, Henry Baptiste, when order finally was restored in the city with the arrival of the National Guard.
Johnson was in a coma for two years and spent his remaining years confined, for the most part, to a long-term care facility, unable to speak or walk due to his brain injuries. He died Jan. 30, 2011, at the age of 77.
“Unfortunately, we have become almost used to stories of journalists being injured or killed overseas, said Manship School Dean Jerry Ceppos. “What we are not used to – thankfully – is the same thing happening in the United States. Bob was a reminder to all of us that we cannot take that safety for granted. He effectively gave his life so that the rest of us could understand what was happening in a difficult period in Baton Rouge and the rest of the South. We’ll never forget that contribution.”
The Courage and Justice citation, which carries a $1,000 award from the Hans and Donna Sternberg Foundation, will be presented to his widow, Audrey, and their five grown children, Luc, Matthew, Marcus, Lori and Leah.
“Johnson’s courage 40 years ago stands as a model of bravery and sacrifice, paying the heaviest of prices so that his viewers could be informed,” Ceppos said.
The initial Courage and Justice Award was presented last April to Stanley Nelson, editor of the Concordia Parish Sentinel, for his dogged work in unraveling the brutal killing of a black businessman in Ferriday, La., in 1964.
A reception will follow the presentation. The event is free and open to the public.