The recipient of the 2nd annual Ruth Wright Johnson Award went to Ms. Mahogany Setzer a senior at the York Comprehensive High School. Mahogany excelled not only in academics with a 3.5 GPA but in athletics as well where she starred as a basketball, soccer and softball talent. This fall she will be attending Pfeiffer University a private university in the village of Misenheimer near Richfield North Carolina to pursue a career in early childhood education. We are excited to have presented this Scholarship to Mahogany because she has grassroots ties from the community. She was a youth NAACP member and as a child she sat in the living room of Mrs. Ruth Wright Johnsons home as we strategized to bring a MLK Holiday to York County the last county in the state of South Carolina to do so and work toward bringing the Confederate Flag down from the State House of South Carolina in Columbia. Her Mother Holly Setzer would bring her to those meetings and she sat and did her homework while we solved world problems in that living room. Kudos to Mahogany for being a part of history and representing the Ruth Wright Johnson for which it was created. Also a huge thanks to Charles Randolph Wright as he allows Mrs. Johnsons legacy to forever live by giving to a deserving student in York SC.
BY ANDREW DYS
Ruth Johnson, an English teacher and activist for racial equality in western York County for decades, and mother of award-winning writer/director Charles Randolph-Wright, died Thursday. She was 85.
Johnson taught for years at the segregated Jefferson School in York, then at York Comprehensive High School after schools were integrated. During all those years and afterward, she was an activist with the NAACP and other groups and helped create community groups that grappled with race problems in York and other rural parts of York County.
“For people in York and western York County, Ruth Johnson was not just a teacher, she was an inspiration,” said Steve Love, a former student and lifelong friend, and the former Western York NAACP president. “She pushed people to try to achieve their dreams and dare to be great.”
Johnson kept a sign on her wall all her life, even in her last years in assisted care after a stroke, that read: “Average is not good enough.”
“Ruth Johnson was a great woman whose impact on all students in York, and her community, will last forever,” said longtime friend John Spratt, the former congressman from York.
Johnson’s high expectations for greatness among students led her only son to the highest artistic honors in America. Charles Randolph-Wright, who grew up in York before heading off to college at Duke University and then to New York City to launch his career, is a director of such Broadway hits as “Motown” and “Blue,” among others. “Motown” is scheduled to be performed at the Belk Theater in Charlotte in August.
Her son, known throughout the world for his creativity and specifically his portrayal of the black experience, said that without his mother, none of that would have been possible. “My mother was the one great influence on my life, the one who had that profound vision for me – and so many others,” Randolph-Wright said Friday. “She had a great influence on people and her community, state and country.”
Randolph-Wright is establishing a yearly scholarship in his mother’s name for a student from York Comprehensive High School. “Her life’s work was to show the thrilling aspirations that learning brings to all of us,” Randolph-Wright said.
A public viewing is Wednesday from 6-8 and a service is Thursday at 1 at Wesley United Methodist Church, with Spratt, York Mayor Eddie Lee, and other dignitaries speaking about Johnson’s impact on York and York County.
By Andrew Dys,
columnist – firstname.lastname@example.org
Longtime York funeral home owner Isaac “Ike” Wright died early Monday morning after a long battle with cancer. He was 65.
Wright has run Wright Funeral Home, now in its 100th year, as his family’s business and the city’s oldest black-owned company.
He was far more than a businessman, though.
His generosity with the community and families, taking care of people of any economic and social station, was well-known not just in York, but throughout the region, said York Mayor Eddie Lee.
A tall man with an ever-present smile, Lee said, Wright was larger than life.
“Ike Wright’s compassion, his generosity, his way of dealing with people his whole life, showed so many people the way to be a friend,” Lee said.
Wright was a lifelong advocate for York, generous with community and volunteer organizations all his life.
The Rev. Anthony Johnson, former NAACP president and pastor at Mount Zion Baptist Church, who worked for Wright for the past decade at the funeral home, said York has lost an icon.
“Ike Wright truly was a great man,” he said.
York has lost a leader who helped shape the city, said Charles Johnson, a longtime friend.
“Ike Wright was a fixture, a legend, in York,” Johnson said. “He will be missed by so many people.”
Wright’s daughter, Bridget, who works in the family business, said arrangements for the funeral are pending.
Through the past four decades, Ike Wright was always generous with others in the funeral business, said Kenny Bratton of Bratton Funeral Home in York.
“Any time I ever needed anything, Ike Wright was there for me or anyone else,” Bratton said. “York has lost a man who loved his city, and his city loved him. He was not just well known, he was well respected.”
Wright was a longtime member of the Western York County branch of the NAACP and took an active, leadership role in the politics and social concerns that affected people.
“He took me under his wing and was a supporter when I went into politics,” said state Rep. John King, D-Rock Hill, a second-generation funeral director himself. “Our families were always very close and supported each other. Many of us who knew him well called him ‘Ikey.’
“Ikey in his business had the highest standards, and in his life he had the highest standards. He will be greatly missed.”
Read more here: http://www.heraldonline.com/news/local/news-columns-blogs/andrew-dys/article12286016.html#storylink=cpy
We are proud to award the first Ruth Wright Johnson Scholarship award to Tanajah Good. Good is a graduate of York Comprehensive High School and currently attends the University of South Carolina Upstate as an Early Childhood Education major.
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