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Ronald Johnson

First Oklahoma Highway Patrol Black trooper


Claremore’s own Ronnie L. Johnson was the first Oklahoma Highway Patrol Black trooper.  Lieutenant Johnson was a trailblazer who led the way for countless other African American troopers to serve with distinction.  The law enforcement community and the entire state of Oklahoma owe him a debt of gratitude for his service, his commitment to law enforcement, and the courage he displayed by being the first of a long and still growing list of African-American state troopers.

During his entire career Johnson met all challenges with professional distinction and courage.  At the start it was extremely tough being a “black cop” in an up until then white profession. There was criticism, doubt, even anger, across the state at the time of his appointment. For his friends back home in Claremore, both black and white, they knew Johnson could accomplish whatever he set out to do.

Following graduation from Lincoln School, Ronald joined the U.S. Air Force for four years service.  Shortly afterwards he married Vanilla Lee White, also of Claremore. Needing a steady job to support his wife and family, he was hired by the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority.  He was the first of his race to become a toll gate attendant, a position he held for two and a half years.

Lt. Johnson believed in the law enforcement community and embarked on a long career marked by determination to overcome the challenges posed in the early years by his race. Both his co-workers and friends knew Johnson was proud of his position, but never did he abuse it despite the circumstances.

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