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An Iowa County Chooses to Be Named for a Black Professor, Not a Slaveowner

Johnson County selected Lulu Merle Johnson, a Black educator and historian, as its official eponym, replacing Richard Mentor Johnson, the ninth U.S. vice president.

A county in Iowa cut ties on Thursday with a slave-owning U.S. vice president for which it had been named, choosing instead to be named for a professor who was the first Black woman to earn a doctorate in the state.

They shared a surname: Johnson.

Johnson County chose Lulu Merle Johnson, who taught history at several historically Black colleges and universities, as its official eponym after a unanimous vote by the county’s Board of Supervisors. The county, a Democratic bastion, is home to Iowa City and the University of Iowa. FOR MORE

BLACK LIVES, history, women

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