by Joycelyne Fadojutimi
The 2020 Unity awards from the city of Longview’s Partners in Prevention Unity and Diversity committee have gone to Johnnie Johnson and Sally Gossett-Barron for their exemplary and unselfish service to the community.
Johnson’s civic contributions are her founding of an organization called ONEKOP, which helped furnish a hospital; organize and direct voting drives. Johnson also worked as the governor’s hostess for Black Political forums. Upon her return to Longview, she co-founded Longview Outreach Mission and serves as its executive director.
Her loving inclination to selflessly serve her community has empowered and assisted hundreds as she teaches and counsels her fellow residents. She has served on boards that have healed instances of injustice and inequality, and she does it all through her personal drive to support human rights.
Johnson said, “I am truly humbled as a recipient of this award. I truly believe that this is God’s way of rewarding me for diligence. His Word tells me to serve and I am not satisfied unless I am serving the community,” she said. “God ordained this award even though the City of Longview Unity and Diversity Committee put it on.”
Barron was a charter member of the former Race Relations Committee now called the Unity and Diversity Committee. In addition, Barron was a pivotal representative in organizing the Partners in Prevention retreat for Community Mobilization in the early 1990s, and in addressing Race Relations in Longview. Her example as a tireless campaigner for the betterment of Longview and its people make her an ideal model for future civic action workers. Both in her earlier career as an educator with the Longview Independent School District and her current position as a licensed professional counselor at Eastman, she has worked compassionately and competently with diverse populations.
She has passionately pursued a campaign against drugs and drinking among Longview’s youth by sticking to the motto “silence is consent.”
“It is amazing to be honored for your passion,” Barron said. “I have taught students for over 45 years, together, we promote unity.”
Johnson and Barron are indeed a voice for the voiceless and a champion of the underserved. Both ladies personify what it takes to earn this award.
The Unity Honors is a lifetime achievement recognition for those who demonstrate leadership in establishing unity, mutual understanding and social justice. But that is not all.
Longview Community Ministries, and Newgate Mission also received awards for their outstanding community service in promoting diverse relationships and needed services to all Longview residents. “We work hard to connect people to services they need,” said Hollie Bruce, executive director of Newgate Missions. “We are the first stop for the homeless and a staple for those in need in our community.”