Gov. John Bel Edwards joined the Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus for the inaugural Gov. Pickney Benton Stewart “P.B.S.” Pinchback Breakfast honoring retired Louisiana Supreme Court Chief Justice Bernette Joshua Johnson on June 3.
Former Acting Gov. Pinchback is Louisiana’s first Black governor, and this year marks the 100th anniversary of his death. The celebration was held to honor his life and legacy and to present Chief Justice Johnson with the P.B.S. Legacy Award. Johnson is the first Black American and second woman to serve in that position on the Louisiana Supreme Court.
Pinchback was president-pro tempore of the Louisiana Senate. He became Lieutenant Governor upon the death of Oscar Dunn and the acting governor after the impeachment of Gov. Henry C. Warmoth. He served briefly from Dec.
9, 1872 until January 13, 1873. Within that time, he signed 10 legislative bills into law. Then, as a delegate to the 1879 Louisiana Constitutional Convention helped to establish Southern University and A&M College. He was the only Black governor of any state during the Reconstruction era. Gov. Pinchback died in December 1921.
“The recognition of Gov. Pinchback’s importance in history is long overdue, and it was an honor to be part of today’s event and to present Chief Justice Johnson with the very first P.B.S. Pinchback Legacy Award. Like him, she is a trailblazer who has had an exemplary legal career working more than 50 years as a lawyer, 36 years as a distinguished jurist, 26 years on the state’s highest court, eight of which she served as chief justice. And I want to personally thank her for serving on the Louisiana Justice Reinvestment Task Force and helping to pass criminal justice reform in 2017,” said Edwards.
“I’m honored to have received this award in the legacy of Gov. Pinchback,” said Johnson. “I hope to be remembered for applying the law with fairness and a nonbiased eye, treating all with dignity and respect, and shining a light on the problems of mass incarceration in Louisiana. We have made great strides, but we must keep fighting the
LLBC Chairman State Representative Ted James said, “The LLBC recognizes we enjoy the shade of a tree planted by of Governor P.B.S. Pinchback… As a caucus we are committed to protecting the legacy and tree planted by Gov. Pinchback and Chief Justice Johnson.”