JACKSON Rosie L.T.P. Johnson, a commissioner of the Jackson Municipal Airport Authority Board, passed away late last week. Johnson's family released the following statement:
"The family of Rosie L. Thompson Pridgen Johnson would like to thank our friends and community for the out pouring of love and support that we have received following Rosie's passing. Rosie loved all things Jackson. The City of Jackson, the Jackson Municipal Airport Authority, the Mississippi School for the Blind, and her dear Jackson State University. To those that are mourning, weep no more. We will celebrate her life in the same way that she lived it. We will celebrate her life with dignity, honor, and an uplifted spirit. Rosie was a beloved mother, wife, sister, daughter, friend, Soror, and dedicated community member."
The family is taking donations to support the Mississippi School for the Blind in lieu of flowers.
"Our family and friends will be hosting a Celebration of Life Benefit Event honoring her life and legacy," the statement from the family says. "All donations received will be given to Leadership Greater Jackson through the Community Foundation of Greater Jackson. Rosie's lifelong passion for education lead her to many years of service at the Mississippi School for the Blind.
Leadership Greater Jackson has committed to carry on her passionate work at MSB through the donations from the event. Donations will be taken at the door and online."
The current JMAA chairman, James L. Henley, Jr., issued a statement on Jan. 12—the day of Johnson's passing—offering condolences to her family and praising Johnson's commitment to the airport.
"Her enthusiasm for the City of Jackson and inexhaustible commitment to Jackson-Medgar Wiley Evers International and Hawkins Field Airports is irreplaceable and will be missed greatly," the statement reads.
In 2014, former Mayor Tony Yarber appointed her to the JMAA board. She served as chairwoman in 2015 and vice chair in 2016. Johnson was a vocal advocate for keeping the airport under City control throughout the Mississippi Legislature's move to take over control of the Jackson airport in the last two years.
"Some of the most negative impact this could have is, number one, it says to our children and other citizens that you can own something, you can follow the rules and so forth, but if someone decides that they may choose to change it (they can) without real logic, without making any business sense," Johnson said in May. "That's a message we don't really want to be teaching."
Several former and current Jackson City Council members, Yarber and the JMAA filed a legal claim against Gov. Phil Bryant and a running list of state officials directly and indirectly involved with the airport "takeover" bill in 2016.
The plaintiffs alleged that Senate Bill 2162 violated the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
The legislation transfers control of the airport, which is in Rankin County but sits on City of Jackson property, from the Jackson Municipal Airport Authority to a larger nine-member board made up of appointed officials from the city, Rankin and Madison counties, as well as mayoral, governor and lieutenant governor appointees. The lawsuit halted any transfer of powers, and for now, the majority African American JMAA still maintains control of the airport, as Johnson wanted.
"Ownership of the airports belongs to Jackson. Its citizens should not be disenfranchised by someone else arbitrarily deciding these are the things that we want to happen, we want to take your property, rearrange it and tell you in essence how you should operate," Johnson said at the time.
Johnson lived in Mississippi since the 1970s after graduating from Jackson State University. She held many degrees including a doctorate in philosophy from Jackson State University and a master's of education in blind rehabilitation, with an emphasis on orientation and mobility for the blind from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.
She served as the superintendent of the Mississippi School for the Blind for 15 years before retiring in 2013. She also served as the superintendent of the Mississippi School for the Deaf for two of those years.
Henley closed his statement by praising Johnson's accomplishments with JMAA, lamenting that Johnson's passion and dedication to the airport and her community "will be cherished for years to come."
Email City Reporter Ko Bragg at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read more about the airport takeover at jfp.ms/airport.
Services and Events for Rosie L.T.P. Johnson
Friday, January 19th
Services held at the Rose McCoy Auditorium on the campus of Jackson State University
Visitation - 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Zeta Phi Beta Ritual - 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Dedication Ceremony - 7 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Saturday, January 20th
Services held at the Rose McCoy Auditorium on the campus of Jackson State University.
Lie in State - 9 a.m. to 10 a.m.
Funeral Service - 10 a.m. to Noon
Burial Natchez Trace Memorial Cemetery 759 US Highway 51 Madison
Repass Pilgrim Rest MB Church 852 Madison Ave. Madison
Celebration of Life
9:20 p.m. to 1:20 a.m.
Musical guests - Dexter Allen and Jake Dean
Union Station 300 W. Capitol St. Jackson