Johnson named Grand Marshall
James Johnson, Jr, born in Norfolk, known to many as Coach, Mr. J, Coach Johnson or Jimmy and a longtime resident of Cumberland has been announced as the Grand Marshall of this year’s Cumberland Christmas Parade. He graduated from Luther P. Jackson High School in Cumberland and received a Bachelor of Science in health and physical education and a Master of Science in educational administration and supervision from Virginia State University. He also studied at Longwood University, Virginia Commonwealth University and University of Virginia.
While a student at Virginia State University, Coach Johnson ran track and was considered a world class sprinter when he defeated the world record holder and the National AAU Champion in the 60yard dash in Madison Square Garden in New York City in 1962.
After college, Coach Johnson returned to coach at his alma mater Luther P Jackson High School. His basketball teams at Luther P Jackson High School from 1965-1968 won 42 games and lost 18. The 1968 team finished third in the VIA State Tournament, Coach Johnson was assigned to coach at Cumberland High School for the 1968-69 school year and continued to have success. His teams had a record of 182 wins 76 losses. He ended his coaching career in 1981 having a record of 224 wins and 94 losses, three state championships in basketball, one state championship in girls track, six regular season championships, six post season district championships, three second place post season district finishers, five Prince Edward Christmas Tournament Championships and three regional championships.
Coach Johnson’s assignments during his 33 years in the Cumberland County School System included positions as teacher, coach, elementary assistant principal, athletic director, director of transportation, director of vocational education, director of GED, high school assistant principal and high school principal.
Coach Johnson was inducted into the Virginia State University Sports Hall of Fame in 1993 and the Cumberland High School Basketball Hall of Fame in 2012. He is a member of the Buffalo Soldiers Motorcycle Club, Petersburg Chapter and is a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity.
He and his wife, Barbara (deceased), have one daughter Tamara and one grandson Trey. Coach Johnson retired in 1998 after a successful 33 year career.