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Lemuel Johnson Center

The Lemuel A. Johnson Library, named in honor of former CAAS director and literary scholar Lemuel Johnson, has now become the Lemuel Johnson Center for Students, Community Engagement, and the Arts (LJC). Located on the fifth floor of Haven Hall adjacent to the DAAS classroom, the redesigned LJC is a light-filled, tree-top space overlooking the central campus Diag. The LJC warmly welcomes DAAS concentrators and minors as well as all students with an interest in Africa, the African diaspora, social change, cultural exploration, and artistic expression.

The LJC offers quiet nooks and comfortable seating for individual reading and study as well as tables for study groups, lab groups, and community engagement project meetings. In the LJC, students will find advising support, computer access, snacks, course and career information, the camaraderie of peers, and student-oriented activities like “Movie Mondays,” holiday gatherings, and exam study breaks. The LJC holds the DAAS historical collection of black periodicals, current black culture periodicals, as well as a unique collection of books on black arts, fiction and poetry. These materials can be accessed for relevant student research projects or relaxed reading. Last but not least, the LJC houses special arts events for the broader DAAS and campus community, including poetry readings and roundtables, music salons, film showings, and celebrations of DAAS authors.

Lemuel A. Johnson

Lemuel Johnson, former director of the Center for Afroamerican and African Studies was a much loved and respected professor in CAAS and the English Department. A scholar, critic, poet and teacher, he graduated from U-M with a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature (’68) and was appointed assistant professor of English in the same year. Rising rapidly through the ranks, he eventually became the director of the Center for Afroamerican and African Studies (CAAS), 1985–1991. Widely traveled, he was fluent in Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian, German and English, Krio (his national language), Yoruba, Hausa and Igbo. As a leading scholar of the African diaspora, he was especially interested in American, Latin American, Caribbean and African literature. Demanding, committed and charismatic, he was deeply concerned with preparing students to live in and to appreciate the diversity and complexity of the human experience on a global scale. As an instructor to students, he sought to “detoxify” the noxious consequences of racialist thought and imaginings. His books include Highlife for Caliban; Shakespeare in Africa; Carnival of the Old Coast; The Devil, the Gargoyle and the Buffoon: The Negro As Metaphor in Western Literature; Hand on the Navel.