Last time I had contact with anyone closest to Dr Umar Johnson, we (myself and several other constituents that don’t need to be mentioned here) had formed a group of Black and concerned people trying to gather together to get the word out about saving St. Paul’s college in Lawrenceville, Virginia.
One particular young lady was highly upset about it and had notified me that it was about to close. Then, it was already down to administrative services, a few students that needed to finish up and graduate, and an advocacy group that was left on campus.
The President of St. Paul’s, Dr. Millard “PETE” Stith Jr., was contacted by us and so was one of the program advocates with an on-site office who had also been working to save the school. We wanted the details and we wanted to know if there was anything else that could be done to save it, or at least preserve it for future use. We also invited Dr. Stith Jr. to be interviewed on the BMQ (Black Men’s Quarterly) talk show.
We worked feverishly for months to see what we could do about getting Black people actively involved in saving the school, and as if from out of nowhere, some five months or so later, came Dr. Umar Johnson. For a hot minute, we had a “conspiracy theory” of our own going on about how he could have gotten the information without listening to us madly publicizing our efforts to save St. Paul’s. Hint: Dr. Umar is not from Virginia, and at the time, there was another HBCU sinking and dying in his own home state.
Objectively speaking, it may have been easier for him to save THAT school in his own home state with the money he is ultimately said to have collected. With that kind of an investment, he could have simply been gracious to his contributors, disclosed in all transparency that it was not enough, and started a “virtual school” online on any number of webinar conference and digital teaching sites available to anyone with that kind of money. The technology nowadays is highly sophisticated and pretty cheap if you have half a mill to spend. Then he could have raised more money from there … or is it just me?
The gist of this conversation is that we watched Umar Johnson begin a fundraising effort to purchase St. Paul’s and use it as a training academy for Black boys. We called Dr. Stith and the President of the on-site advocacy group at St. Paul’s, and neither confessed to being made aware of Dr. Umar’s efforts prior to that day.
“Fine”, we said, as long as it is used to the good of Black people and these young Black men who do need our help, let him do what he needs to do and God bless him. We then said we “hoped” he would be successful.
Rather than get upset about the general feeling that Umar was trying to schmooze the school from under us after so many months of advertising, calling and campaigning, and even doing a title search on the property to see how the buildings and the land were deeded, we wished Dr. Umar all the best.
We then made an attempt to contact him to ask if there was anything we could do to help HIM. When we finally got his “assistant” on the phone, she told us that he would return our call after a meeting he was in at the time. Needless to say, we never heard back after we teamed with the on-site group at St. Paul’s and made at least two more attempts to speak with him and offer our assistance. One lady raised her dissent about his so-called “radicalism” and sleight of hand operations, but said she would go hand-in-hand with whatever the rest of the group decided to do. In the meantime, the “Dr. Umar” school changed its name to the Frederick Douglass Academy during the offering.
By the time he raised more than $250k, so we heard, his Paypal account was frozen on accusations of possible fraud for lack of transparency. Shortly after, another tidbit broke out on the online scene that he did not raise the requested $5Mn and that he had labeled all Black people “trifling” after the school was sold off piece by piece; thus negating the importance of the ones who did contribute.
Also, we had discovered some months before that that Dr Umar Johnson had PREVIOUSLY copied an article from a “Cointelpro” conspiracy theory website nearly verbatim and cut and paste his name into it in order to make others think he was being “tracked by the FBI” and that they were on ‘sabotage and destroy’ mode with his efforts to educate the Black community and “save Black boys”. I refuse to call him “cray,” maybe he had a legitimate reason for doing that, but it’s easy to bust cut’n’paste plagiarism jobs online — especially since the Republican Party does it so much.
I won’t even attempt a guess at why he would behave so covertly and then not even answer or return our phone calls; but, in a nutshell, that is what happened and what many have said happened: Now this …
Dang, Good Doctor. At LEAST you could have put the t-shirt ON.
And lest anyone think I’d be “trifling” enough to care whether or not he was actually wearing this shirt in the photo below, dig deeper. Far be it from any of us to do something as “trifling” as cutting down a Black man for his efforts to help the Black community and young Black men, but well, hell’s bells … figure it out for yourself.
It is more than obvious that Dr. Boyce is HIGHLY upset with Dr Umar Johnson because of the length of the following YouTube video, but take about 21 minutes out of your day to give it a listen.
So what are your thoughts on Dr Umar Johnson? Is he a good guy with the right intentions but just spreading himself too thin? Or is he purposely not making good on promises and intentions? We would love to know your thoughts.
PUBLIC NOTE: The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not reflect the view of the Urban Intellectuals, affiliates or partners.