Trashing Black History
The J.B. Johnson Nursing Center was built in the 1970s to honor Dr. John Beauregard Johnson, one of America’s first and foremost black cardiologists and the longtime head of Howard University’s Department of Medicine. Dr. Johnson made critical breakthroughs in the treatment of hypertension and spent his career working to improve care for the poor and elderly.
VMT showed profound disrespect for Dr. Johnson’s life and work when it cavalierly decided to rename the facility “Unique Residential Care Center” earlier this year.
That name change came in the midst of an intensifying public campaign by J.B. Johnson caregivers to improve conditions at the home. The J.B. Johnson workers, seeking to safeguard care and improve poor pay and benefits, about had voted in early 2010 to form a union, but VMT has refused to settle a fair contract.
Soon after VMT renamed J.B. Johnson “Unique,” a portrait of the doctor that had long graced the facility’s entryway was found by a caregiver in the trash. But the caregivers of J.B. Johnson will not rest until Johnson’s name — and the values he stood for — are restored.