For Pepper From Salt; Time to Salute You.


This is based on an article I wrote as a freelance photo/journalist for Black History MonthFor almost 40 years I have been known to Ida as Salt and she is Pepper, and together we have been “The Salt and Pepper Team” for social and economic justice.”
Ida salt and pepper
A Black History Story
Dr. Ida Johnson
By Joyce Godwin Grubbs
Based on an article I wrote as a freelance photo/journalist for Black History Month.
For years, the people who know and love Dr. Ida Johnson have tried to convince her to write a book and tell her story. Humble to the core, she wrote them off as “nice folks who loved her”. What could be so special about a single mom who survived domestic violence and raised her family “the best she could?” It took a powerful wakeup call from a “neutral source” to teach her that being humble can be a stumbling block to becoming a blessing to others”.
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Meadowlark Lemon is a man admired throughout the world. When he received an invitation to speak at Dr. Ida’s fundraiser to benefit her organization “United Neighbors” in Davenport, Iowa, as is his practice he researched the organization and person involved in the request. Dr. Ida was pleased her invitation, on behalf of the organization she founded, was accepted. She was surprised when Mr. Lemon spoke with her privately during his visit and asked if she had ever considered writing a book about her life. He said while researching her he found things that should be shared. When Meadowlark Lemon asks the question, one does not dismiss it. His suggestion still resonates as she is now 72 and it is a time of reflection and consideration as to her legacy.

As a small child, she was part of civil rights marches accompanying her minister father. He included his entire family in the marches and sit-ins of the era. Dr. Ida shared with a correspondent that she remembers being “called everything but a child of God” as her family was spat on and shoved.  She could relate to this young girl in Little Rock, Ark. Her grandfather told stories of accompanying his father into the south to steal “slaves” and bring them out to live free. Her beginnings with the white world were shaky at best.

As a young churchwoman, Ida fell in love, married, and had a family. It was not ideal and she was the victim of violent domestic abuse. In an attempt to save her life, she ran, taking her children with her to the state of Iowa. Forced to accept welfare and live in a poor neighborhood while fighting to keep her family intact and fed, she made sure it was as short an experience as possible. She began to bring neighborhood children in to her living room for games, and learning activities. From that humble beginning more than thirty-five years ago, she now has a formal non-profit that serves hundreds a day and she quickly moved off welfare, never to go back.
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Ida sun collage
United Neighbors provides after-school tutoring programs, summer programs, “Juneteenth” celebrations, food and clothing programs and she is known as the Mother of the Central City. Her programs help access health benefits, rent, and housing advocacy. The hardest and most emotional contribution has come in these last years as she finally began to speak out on domestic violence and encourage young women to seek help and educate them on the facts that may save their lives.

Among the honors she has received is the Martin Luther King Award for Service, an honorary Doctorate from St. Ambrose University, recognition at city, state and national levels from government and civic groups. She has testified before legislative bodies nationally and is recognized as an authority of positive change in urban neighborhoods. She was chosen as one of the 2009 Iowa African American Women’s Leadership Conference as one of three Honorees for outstanding contributions to the mentoring and leadership of African American women in Iowa.Ida Accepts
Ida is courted by politicians on both sides of the aisle, and is an integral part of planning strategic programs to benefit the minorities in her city and her state. She is a strong woman of faith and holds leadership in her church, and as a role model for Christian women. Dr. Ida Johnson is truly a humble and vital woman.

In the early years as she struggled to move her work from her home to a formal organization and permanent building. She was often attacked and called a racist by the insensitive and the uninformed. She never backed down, and all the while enduring continuing hardships and losses. She lost a son, and her youngest child has grown into adulthood with a difficult to control seizure disorder. At seventy-two, Ida still cares for her grown daughter in her home, while maintaining a forty-hour + workweek in her organization.

This correspondent can testify first hand to a great legacy of Dr. Ida Johnson’s as she has worked to balance the racial fields of endeavor for whites and blacks. For more than thirty years, Ida “covered the back” of this correspondent as we both fought in the inner city for the “underdogs and downtrodden”. We enjoyed the title, “The Salt and Pepper Team”. If Ida was attacked as a racist, I validated her, and in return, if I was accused, she validated me. When I ran for office, she made sure I was heard though we were of different political persuasions at that time.(I remain an independent) When she was turning seventy we celebrated thirty five years of friendship by taking a trip together to New York City to see Fantasia in “The Color Purple”. A fitting choice considering our backgrounds. 
GLW Tracks 2
Ida inspired the character of “Ida Mae” in my novel:
Black History, like any history, is made up of many small events, individuals and those who stand out not because they are famous, but because they are persistent in their beliefs, consistent in their efforts and they prevail because they never quit. Dr. Ida is all of these things, and continues in the city of Davenport, Iowa to make a change for the better, to close racial divides, and to champion those who seek the American Dream, which has no color. Image

2009 Iowa African American Women’s Leadership Conference as one of three Honorees for outstanding contributions to the mentoring and leadership of African American women in Iowa

Ida Gov Hall of fame

Iowa Governor Terry Branstad and Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds presenting Dr. Ida Mae Johnson with the  Hall of Fame Volunteer award  


About joycegodwingrubbs2

Some call me retired: I am RE-FIRED. I have written 15 books, plus 3 written as a "ghost writer". I no longer offer the novels as printed books, having them only available as Kindle Ebooks since my retirement as a novelist. Twelve books are on Kindle eBooks: collectively they are known as The Greyhound Lady Walking suspense series.They are real cases fictionalized into suspense stories to protect identities..( no victim/survivor names were compromised, and workers and locations were protected.) I also co-authored a non-fiction book: Footsteps Out of Darkness: The Annabelle Kindig Story . It is available on Amazon under the name of Annabelle Kindig. I have traveled, written from the heart, and found an audience that appreciates my "platform". The catalyst to writing the novels was the realization that if I died, I would take all my amazing experiences in these real cases with me; and believe me few have lived 5 lives in one. It would "silence the voices" of the victim/survivors whose triumphs are written into these novels. The suspense series was written in part with the collaboration of police woman and sex crime expert Trula Ann Godwin. In addition to the novels, I have written as a ghost writer for a World War II veteran who fought in the South Pacific aboard the USS Maryland in all the major battles. I have also written a non-fiction book recording oral history stories of my family members beginning with the 1930's to present. There are sixty-six "legacy" stories with pictures. It was recently published as a private printing for family and close associates only. I am a published photo journalist having won the 2009 Editor's Choice Award for internet freelance news articles and pictures of the Cedar Rapid's Iowa flood victim accounts and their personal struggles.. My husband and I are in our 52nd year together (only one blip on the marital radar together), and we have adopted three greyhounds; Dex, Big Buddy and Baby Doll. These were the inspirations in the Greyhound Lady Walking suspense series We have eleven grandchildren, 7 grandsons and 4 granddaughters. My three children live in Iowa, Wisconsin and Ohio.
This entry was posted in AFRICAN AMERICAN HONOREE, Life lessons about prejudice., ROLE MODEL, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to For Pepper From Salt; Time to Salute You.

  1. Amazing woman God Bless

  2. Trish says:

    Wonderful job, Ms. Joyce, and I agree, my mom is WONDERFUL and truly blessed.

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