Hundreds of well-wishers, including a who’s who among political, business, civic and cultural leaders from throughout the region, state and nation, braved brisk winds and chilly temperatures to witness history as Louisiana Supreme Court Chief Justice Bernette Joshua Johnson was officially sworn during an investiture ceremony in early March, making her the first African-American chief justice in the history of the state’s highest court.
Chief Justice Bernette Joshua Johnson was elected to serve on the Louisiana Supreme Court in 1994, and was re-elected, without opposition, in 2000. She serves on the Louisiana Supreme Court’s Judicial Council, and has served on the Court’s Legal Services Task Force, as well as the National Campaign on Best Practices in the area of Racial and Ethnic Fairness in the Courts.
Justice Johnson attended Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia on an academic scholarship, where she received a Bachelor of Arts degree. She received an Honorary Doctorate in Law from Spelman College at commencement services in April, 2001. She was one of the first African-American women to attend the Law School at Louisiana State University (LSU), where she received her juris doctorate degree in 1969. She was honored by her law school in 1996, when her portrait was unveiled, and she was inducted into the LSU Law Center’s Hall of Fame.
In addition to her judicial responsibilities, Justice Johnson has been actively involved in serving the community. She has served as an Executive Committee Member of the National Alumnae Association Spelman College (1991-1994); as Chair of the New Orleans Chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (1989-1994); as a Member of the Martin Luther King National Holiday Planning Committee; as a Member of the Board of Directors of the Young Women Christian Association and as a Life Member of the NAACP.