Jillian Johnson

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Jillian Johnson

Jillian Johnson is a Durham, North Carolina City Council member. Johnson was elected in 2015 on a platform of racial, economic, and environmental justice, police accountability, equitable development, broadening democracy, and centering the voices of those who are most impacted by the issues facing our city. In 2017, she was unanimously elected Mayor Pro Tempore by my council colleagues.

Originally from Virginia, Johnson moved to Durham in 1999 to attend Duke University and graduated in 2003 with a B.A. in public policy and a minor in women’s studies. She has been working in the non-profit sector since 2004 with experience in administration, community organizing, mobilization, communications, social media, and information technology. She is a co-founder of Durham for All, an organization working to build a multi-racial, cross-class, political vehicle in Durham.

I am active in the labor movement, the Black Lives Matter movement, and the LGBTQ movement, and was one of nearly 1,000 people arrested in 2013 as part of North Carolina’s Moral Monday movement. I serve on several boards and city committees independently and through my work on city council.
The City Boards and Commissions that I serve on include Joint City/County Planning Committee, Museum of Life and Science, Audit Services, Council Procedures, Durham Housing Authority, Durham Leadership Committee, Durham Youth Commission, Mayor’s Council for Women, Joint City/County, Cultural Affairs Board, Participatory Budgeting Steering Committee, and Race Equity Task Force.
I am also a board game designer working on my first project, a cooperative game that imagines the development of a future communitarian society in Appalachia after over 100 years of climate change. I live in Durham’s West End neighborhood with my partner.[1]



Community Involvement & Organizations

Open Letter to the Biden Campaign on “Unprepared”

Open Letter to the Biden Campaign on “Unprepared” was released May 12 2020.

":Our demands: The country’s greatest priority at this moment is to beat the COVID-19 crisis, and this requires embracing principles of antiracist solidarity and international cooperation. The Biden campaign can and should beat Trump and the GOP with a message centered on our real public health needs and the progressive values that are required to meet those needs. The “Unprepared” ad must be taken down, and all campaign messaging that fuels anti-Asian racism and China-bashing must end. We refuse to allow the Biden campaign to sacrifice our dignity in the name of political expediency."

Signatories included Jillian Johnson .

Freelon supporters

Pierce Freelon For North Carolina November 2 2019.

In Durham, North Carolina


With Jillian Johnson and Charlie Reece.

Council victories

Durham for All fundraising letter from Dre Blakeney November 2019..


My name is Dre. I’m part of a team of young leaders of color who have been organizing across Durham to talk with folks about affordable housing and get out the vote for our municipal elections.

Together, we elected four progressive leaders who have proven their dedication to fighting alongside our movements: city council members Javiera Caballero, Jillian Johnson, Charlie Reece and Mayor Steve Schewel. And together, we won a $95 million housing bond to combat gentrification and end the rapid displacement of our communities. So I’m writing to say congratulations, y’all. We did that.

Dre's story

For me, Tuesday night’s victories were a celebration of four years of organizing in the Durham community. I first came to the city in 2009 as an undergraduate at NCCU. After graduating and spending a short time away, my partner and I decided to move back and make this city our home. I loved the political community I’d found here, and I still love it today.

I was first introduced to Durham for All by Sendolo Diaminah back in 2016. At the time, I was going through a transition in my life and was also starting to develop an analysis of power. What drew me to Durham for All was that our organization has always rooted our electoral work in a plan for building a longterm movement, and one that centers the leadership of black and brown folks in Durham. I knew I wanted to be a part of that, but at the time I didn’t have a lot of faith in my own power or ability to be an organizer.

The mentorship and support I’ve received at Durham for All has allowed me to overcome my fear and see myself as real leader. Durham for All is deeply committed to putting the government in the hands of the people. One of the most important ways that we do that is by investing in and developing new leaders. The organization has invested in me, and I became a member to continue to invest in the leaders who will come up behind me. Time after time we’ve seen leaders take risks and take on new responsibilities, and support one another through the work. And because of that work, our organization has grown by over 300 members in 2019 alone![3]

DAE PAC endorsement


Update 8/17/2019:

Our members have been busy this week! Members attended the DAE PAC meeting on Wednesday and voted to endorse Steve Schewel for mayor and Jillian Johnson, Javiera Caballero, and Charlie Reece for City Council.

Durham for All Public Facebook group members

Durham for All Public Facebook group members April 30 2020 included Jillian Johnson.

F4A candidates

Durham for All October 8 2019·

It's election day y'all!

We have until 7:30 pm to vote for the three candidates who are fighting alongside us for a Durham where all of us can thrive: Javiera Caballero, Jillian Johnson, and Charlie Reece.


Now is the time to make our voices heard! Click the link to find your polling place: https://vt.ncsbe.gov/RegLkup/

Jillian Johnson for City Council, Javiera Caballero para Durham, Charlie Reece for Durham.

Durham for All people

Durham For All June 21, 2017 · We had a busy weekend with our 2nd Monthly Mass Meeting, a Campaign Team mid-year retreat, and a base-building Community Dinner!

Durham folks, JOIN OUR 10K STRONG SQUAD: durhamforall.org/pledge

Let's win political power and build a Durham for All!

  1. 10KSTRONG

Sendolo Diaminah, Kaji Reyes, Laila Nur, Jillian Johnson, Bennett D. Carpenter, Melissa Norton, Tim Stallman, Salma Mirza, Elena Everett, Aiden Riley Graham, Tony Marimbondo Macias, Anna Duncan, Anna Grant, Ade Oh, Zaina Alsous, Jadebroo KS, Sijal Nasralla, Anthony Maglione, Ashlyn Nuckols.

Sendolo Diaminah endorsement


Jillian Johnson for City Council October 28 2019·

I'm so excited to announce the endorsement of the #BullCityTogether team by Sendolo Diaminah, a national movement leader and community organizer here in NC. Sendolo has been working for a more equitable and inclusive Durham for over a decade, and I'm thrilled to have his endorsement!

- with Charlie Reece for Durham & Javiera Caballero para Durham.

Donors and monthly sustainers Durham Solidarity Center

Supporters of Durham Solidarity Center.

People’s Durham, Vision 2.0 Tech, Workers World Party, Youth Organizing Institute.

Zaina Alsous, Felicia Arriaga, Ben Carroll, Ben Crawford, Jason Cross, Alissa Ellis, Elena Everett, Peter Gilbert, Susie Goodman, Luke Hirst, Jillian Johnson, Andy Koch, Roxane Kolar, Jonathan Kotch, Jodi Lasseter, Connie Leeper, Fernando Martinez, Eva Panjwani, Josh Reynolds, Cathey Stanley, Dante Strobino, E. Swan, Tamara Tal, Rachel Valentine.[4]

Palestine forum

On April 16th 2018, the City Council of Durham, North Carolina became the first city in the country to unanimously pass a policy statement ending police exchanges between the Durham Police Department and the Israeli Defence Force (IDF).

This auspicious decision was made possible because of the Demiltarize! Durham2Palestine Campaign, a progressive grassroots coalition of ten organizations who support the Palestinian struggle for Human Rights. There were many contributions that made this victory possible and all are equally important, but I want to explore the contribution of the historically Black college in Durham: North Carolina Central University (NCCU).

On October 24th, 2016, two years before the coalition formed, NCCU hosted an event entitled “Linking Liberation Struggles: Pursuing Global Awareness and Civic Engagement.” One of the panelists happened to be City Councilwoman Jillian Johnson who talked about the importance of Black and Palestinian Solidarity.

For many students, this was their first time hearing about the Israeli occupation and it exposed them to the interconnectedness of the Black freedom struggle and the Palestinian struggle for human rights. Two years later when the campaign emerged to end police exchanges between the Durham Police Department and the Israeli Defense Force, the movement to support Palestine was not new to the historically Black campus.[5]

Durham Solidarity Center advisory board

Durham Solidarity Center advisory board as of 2014; [6]

"We Demand Access to the Durham Jail! Rally & Press Conference"

Thursday 10 December 2015, Zaina Alsous organized a "We Demand Access to the Durham Jail! Rally & Press Conference " outside the Durham County Jail.

Join us as we announce our newly formed Jail Investigation Team and our plans to hold the Durham County Jail accountable.

Since November 2012, Inside-Outside Alliance, a Durham based organization that organizes against the prison system, has published letters from inmates and their families detailing the inhumane conditions many experience at the Durham County Detention Facility.

Those indicating their intention to attend on Wherevent included Jillian Johnson, Cat Crowe, Maiz Criollo, Alex Biggers, Mitch Xia, Sendolo Diaminah, Mindy Isser, Sarah Pederson, Eli Meyerhoff, Liz Rose, Molly Hastings, Alice Sievers, Justine Lam, Elisa Benitez, Nikhil Umesh, Patricia Bass, Phillip Marschall, Matt Whitt, Xander Collins, Leah Block, Joe Stapleton, Holden Cession, James Cersonsky, D’atra Jackson, Arbor Quist, Stanley Yuan, Blanche Amelia S. Brown, Michael Becker, Sydney Roberts, Archer Wang, Eli Viszk, Danielle Roachie, Amy Godfrey, Ryan Stokes, Michael Dennis, Gregory Williams, Jade Brooks, Jojo Moto, Abby Hylton, Chanelle Croxton, David Theurer, Ben Carroll, Dante Strobino, Destiny Hemphill, Shilpi Misra, Nikki Mintz, Heeva Kadivar, Sandra Korn, Naomi Baumann. [7]

"Durham Beyond Policing Town Hall"

1104 Broad St, Durham, Tuesday 9 February 2016 "Durham Beyond Policing Town Hall" organized by Jade Brooks.

We are calling all freedom-fighters, all justice-lovers, all truth-tellers, all who can't wait to please join Southerners On New Ground and the #SayHerName crew for a community forum and visioning session. Let's speak our truths and sow the seeds of a new way forward for all our people, with those most impacted, most criminalized, at the center: black and brown people, queer, trans and gender non-conforming folks, working class and poor people, undocumented people ... Let's dream and scheme together and find out ways to throw down for campaigns and direct action that holds the cops accountable

Those indicating attendance on Wherevent included Jillian Johnson, Dante Strobino, James Cersonsky, Nikhil Umesh, Ben Wilkins, Jade Brooks, Marcus R. Bass, Joe Stapleton, Kristen Cox, Hannah Spector, Jose Romero, Nancy Caamano, China Medel, Scott Michael, Alex Biggers, Destiny Hemphill, Cat Crowe, Monique Laborde, Tobi Lippin, Amy Wang, Mitch Xia, Xander Stewart, Smiley Boyd, Mina Ezikpe, Ethan Tyler, Jess Dilday, Jonathan Henderson, Alex Chassanoff, Jacky Chan, Margaret A. Brunson, Alissa Ellis, Magdalene Slerlisk, Saba Taj, Le'Andre Demond Blakeney, Doneatha Green, Kaylan Baxter, Destiny Hemphill, D’atra Jackson, Amy Glaser, Eliza Meredith, Gregory Williams, Victoria Bouloubasis, Umar Salute Muhammad, Patricia Bass, Gen Na, Regan Downey Buchanan, Chanelle Croxton, Ben Carroll, Patrick Snipes, Jess Issacharoff, Mariah Monsanto, Alex Biggers, Jojo Moto, Zachary Faircloth, Sarah Pederson, Stef Bernal-Martinez, Bro Beasley, Ben Wilkins, Jessica Pierce, Isa Bee, Jessica Jude, Tony Hood, Mindy Isser, Rachel Alexis Storer, Moses Ochola, Ade Oh, Lisa Sorg, Blanche Amelia S. Brown, Shilpi Misra, Scott Michael, Afi Apefa Bello, Mary Alta, Anastasia Karkliņa, Lizzie Lindsey, Holly Hardin, Matilda Wormwood, Eli Viszk, Wutang McDougal, Andrew Heil, Fern Hickey, Philip Marschall, Catherine Berman, Bex Kolins, Jen Przewoznik, Equashia Mumin, Eva Panjwani, India Pierce, Sandra Korn, Risa Foster, Ngọc Loan Tran, Eli Meyerhoff, Shanna Ochola, Serena Sebring, Ajamu Dillahunt, Jr., Nagwa Nukuna, Jina Valentine.[8]

Revolutionary Strategies to Beat the Rising Right Wing

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Revolutionary Strategies to Beat the Rising Right Wing, was a nationwide conference call organized by Freedom Road Socialist Organization, Sunday October 30, 2016.

What's the nature of this right-wing threat? What has this election cycle changed about the political terrain we're fighting on? How do we need to prepare for whats coming after the election? Hear about these crucial questions from our panel of top political strategists, including Nelini Stamp, Bill Fletcher, Jr., Linda Burnham, and Sendolo Diaminah.

Those indicating interest in attending, on Facebook included Jillian Johnson.[9]

Durham for All

Durham for All activists.

Ociele Hawkins October 25, 2017 ·


With Sendolo Diaminah, Jillian Johnson, Ociele Hawkins, Tony Macias, Anna Grant.


Durham for All November 3, 2016.

Photo credit: Sufia Ikbal Doucet Studios — with Kaji Reyes, Ade Oh, Anthony Maglione, Michael Whyte, DeDreana Freeman, Mina Ezikpe, Melissa Norton, Anna Grant, Jillian Johnson, Jazmynne Williams, Courtney Sebring, Liz Ott, Eric Winston, Danielle Purifoy, Sendolo Diaminah and Nate Johnson.

"10K Strong Campaign Team"

Durham for All

Most members of our 2017 10K Strong Campaign Team, looking real cute after our year-end gathering.

Durham People's Alliance support

Durham People's Alliance October 23, 2015 ·


PA members are going door-to-door tomorrow (Saturday) to Get Out The Vote for our progressive candidates! Join us at 1:30 pm for a quick training before hitting the street to talk with friendly voters. Meet us at 1821 Green Street. See you there!

Charlie Reece, Steve Schewel, Jillian Johnson.

Occupy Durham

Jillian Johnson, is a "brilliant, radical, black, queer woman who played a prominent role in Occupy Durham.[10]

USAS delegation

In 2002, after three years of organizing students as part of United Students Against Sweatshops, Jillian Johnson participated in a delegation to El Salvador & Guatemala to investigate conditions at factories producing clothes for Gap stores.

This video was made when we returned to New York after two weeks spent learning from factory workers, union members, and community activists.
The labor movement is the reason workers have weekends, an 8-hour workday, child labor laws, paid breaks, parental leave, unemployment insurance, and more. I am proud to be a part of the labor movement here in the Triangle and part of the long legacy of workers organizing to improve their lives. Let's keep fighting for unions, living wages, and more power for workers on the job!

Jillian Johnson of Duke University traveled with Jackie Bright of University of Michigan, Nadine Wu of James Madison, Liana Foxgrove of Reed College.[11]