YWCA Greensboro Board of Directors Racial and Social Justice Committee Presents:
Black History Month Spotlight:
Princess Howell Johnson
This February, during Black History Month, we are shining a spotlight on activists in our community who are making an impact. Our next spotlight shines on Princess Howell Johnson.
Princess Johnson grew up on Greensboro and attended Dudley High School. Surrounded by Black excellence much of her life, she was equipped with the knowledge of Black history – the struggles and triumphs.
In 2009, Princess Johnson established Royal Expressions Contemporary Ballet – a dance company and school. Little did she know of the challenges she would face as the owner of a Black arts institution in Greensboro. As time went on, Johnson noticed a deep disparity in funding and resources for Black artists and arts organizations. In 2017, she began to speak up and out about the arts public funding sector and their need to change their funding structures. Her voice was met with much opposition, but she continued to show up and speak up.
It was not until 2019 that her voice was heeded and small changes were starting to take place. However, it was the 2020 racial uprisings that led her to establish the Black Artistic Voices of Greensboro as she watched white artists benefit from Black grief and the Black Lives Matter Movement. This group on Facebook is a hub for Black artists in Greensboro to share funding opportunities, upcoming events, form collaborative connections, and help other Black artists find their voice to be advocates for change in the arts funding landscape in Greensboro and beyond.
Johnson also established the Arts Legacy Awards in 2020 to honor unsung Black artists who have made contributions and impact in Greensboro arts and culture. She also brought together a team of Black artists and activists to launch the first-ever Juneteenth GSO Fest in 2021. Johnson has made it her mission to see Black artists thrive in Greensboro through equitable funding and opportunities to create.
Thank you for advocating for Black artists in Greensboro, Princess!