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David Alan Johnson

David Alan Johnson

David Alan Johnson, from Brownsville, TN, graduated from the University of the South in Sewanee, with a degree in Politics and minor in Economics in 2019. During this time, he studied microfinance and social entrepreneurship in the United Arab Emirates and Bangladesh, served as Tennessee’s Youth & College Division President for the NAACP, researched his university’s ties to slavery (Roberson Project), and played on the varsity basketball team where he won a conference championship and made all-academic team.

One of 41 students across the US selected to be a Thomas J. Watson Fellow, David created an original, year-long, project exploring how countries deal with past human rights abuses in Northern Ireland, Germany, Rwanda, and South Africa; he engaged survivors, ex-prisoners, local NGOs, government entities, academics, museum directors, and activists on a diverse range of issues including truth & reconciliation, criminal trials, reparations, and memorialization.

David’s experiences abroad with transitional justice led him to pursue his Master’s in Public Policy at the University of Chicago where he received certificates in Global Conflict and International Development, and served as a research assistant for the Transitional Justice & Democratic Stability Lab.

A member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc., the Institute for Responsible Citizenship, and board member for Tennesseans for Historical Justice, David continues to commit himself to service by lifting as he climbs.

As he pursues his career at the intersection of international law and public policy, he gives gratitude and deference to Dr. Alexander for her tenacity in the face of adversity at Penn and beyond, Black alumni who advocated for this trailblazing program, and his ancestors who toiled in the Jim Crow South imagining what life could be for him.