LISLE — When Lisle resident Cynthia Johnson heard her name called during a recent NCAAP DuPage County Branch meeting, she was shocked to be honored in such a prestigious manner.
Johnson, 58, was named the 2013 recipient of the Medgar Evers Award during the 57th annual DuPage County NAACP Freedom Fund and Scholarship Gala held Saturday, March 9 at Wyndham Lisle. The award honors individuals who show distinguished community service over a significant period of time.
Although Johnson received the award during the gala, she was informed of her achievement during a December NAACP DuPage County Branch meeting.
“My mouth dropped and everyone stood up and started clapping,” Johnson said of the meeting. “I couldn’t believe it. But people were saying, ‘You deserve it.’”
The mission of the NAACP is to ensure the political, educational, social and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate racial hatred and racial discrimination, according to dupagecountyncaacp.org.
Johnson's resume as a 12-year member of the NAACP DuPage County Branch is extensive. It includes stints as the group's secretary, second vice president, Education Committee chair, Nominating Committee chair, Sydney Finley Memorial Scholarship chair and delegate to the NAACP national convention.
She is also currently the co-chair of ACT-SO, which stands for Afro-Academic, Cultural, Technological and Scientific Olympics.
ACT-SO is an NAACP youth initiative that provides career exploration in 26 subject areas encompassed by the sciences, humanities, business and arts. Johnson said she considers past Medgar Evers Award recipients "giants" in civil rights and education.
“Just to be acknowledged and to be in that company is a distinct honor,” she said.
Johnson, who retired in August after 12 years as the Community Development Specialist at the College of DuPage, was previously a substitute teacher for Naperville Community Unit School District 203 and an economist for Ameritech.
Johnson looks forward to seeing the progress in what she has been working toward through ACT-SO to close the academic achievement gap, which requires more parental involvement, she said.
“I’m going to work until that gap closes. It hasn’t closed yet, but I’m working on the right formula to close it,” Johnson said.
For more information on the NAACP DuPage County Branch, visit dupagecountynaacp.org.