Debra M. Johnson was elected as President of the ASCAC Eastern Region, effective July 1, 2013. Ms. Johnson stated upon receiving this new office, “As we move forward I hope to carry the torch and spirit of Maria Stewart, Harriet Tubman, Mary Talbert, Queen Nzinga, and my Mother Annie M. Johnson who taught me the importance of my history, family, and community.”
Debra was introduced to ASCAC by Sam and Vi Dupree of First World Alliance in Brooklyn, New York and has been a member of ASCAC since 1987. Debra organized the One Alkebulan Family Study Group in 1987 and the study group is an institutional member of ASCAC. In 1992, she was the co-chair of the conference committee for the ASCAC Eastern Regional Conference held in Buffalo, New York.
In 1993, Ms. Johnson was elected the New York State Upstate Coordinator helping to develop study groups and programs in parts of Canada as well as, Western and Central New York. In 1994, she organized the first Upstate Harriet Tubman Retreat. The Retreat was formed to help develop and expand the Harriet Tubman Memorial Library. It also functions as a venue for study group meetings and forums to present their works; and helped to expand tourism to the home. Today the collection holds more than 2,000 books, thousands of photographs and documents relating to Harriet Tubman and Africans throughout the Diaspora. For the past few years Ms. Johnson continued to work with ASCAC through the Research Commission. Her research concentration is early nineteenth-century African American Female Literary Societies. In 2009, she was a contributor to the book, Go, Tell Michelle: African American Women Write to the New First Lady. Debra was co-curator of the exhibit, “They Kept Their Word: African American Women’s Literary Societies and Their Legacy” in January 2011. The exhibit displayed the growth and accomplishments that took place during the 1830s and 1840s that were due to many factors, including expansion of communication through transportation, newspapers, pamphlets, study groups, and lecture. “They Kept Their Word” shows how these accomplishments continued throughout the late 1890s and leading into the twentieth-century. African American Women were instrumental in taking care of their elders, creating kindergarten classes, becoming the community, state and national educators and leaders.
Ms. Johnson has presented at museums, libraries, schools and community forums throughout New York State in addition to ASCAC regional and international conferences. March 10, 2013 marked the 100th Celebration of the Life of Harriet Tubman and which she was able to make a presentation on the Life & Times of Harriet Tubman. Finally, in June 2013 she was invited to participate in the History of New York State Conference in Cooperstown, New York.
Debra has an AA degree in Business Administration from Erie Community College (ECC) in Buffalo, New York and a BA degree in Communication Studies from Canisius College in Buffalo, New York.