The Vernon Johns Story (1994)

TV Movie  |  PG  |   |  Biography, Drama  |  15 January 1994 (USA)
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Vernon Johns, a brilliant man coupled with an eloquent speaker, upsets his community through his radical ideas on social change and economic independence of blacks. From his pulpit, he ... See full summary »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Deacon Wilkes
Tommy Hollis ...
Coach Hill
Baby Dee (as Nicole Leach)
Ashanti Nailah Blaize ...
Judge Blake
Shelby Ware ...
Janet Whitcomb
Moses Gibson ...
Deacon Henderson
Billie Allen ...
Ida Rawlins
Michael Howell ...
Justin Young ...
White Teenager
Garland Bunting ...


Vernon Johns, a brilliant man coupled with an eloquent speaker, upsets his community through his radical ideas on social change and economic independence of blacks. From his pulpit, he attacks the white power and denounces police brutality towards his brother race. His biggest enemy is nonetheless his own congregation who hesitates to mobilize behind him. Written by markyoloup

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Biography | Drama






Release Date:

15 January 1994 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Road to Freedom: The Vernon Johns Story  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


The story was based on an unpublished biography by Henry W. Powell of The Vernon Johns Society. See more »


After one of his parishioners is raped, Rev. Johns has his daughter post his Sunday Sermon announcement on the church sign. The sign shows the name of the church, Sunday Service 11:00 AM, and "Dr. Vernon Johns, Pastor", and between the service time and Johns name is 'WHEN THE RAPIST IS WHITE', with single quote marks before and after. In the next scene, Johns is called to see a judge, who shows Johns a picture of the sign with the Sunday Sermon announcement, except the picture shows "WHEN THE RAPIST IS WHITE" with double quote marks before and after, and with the Sermon announcement above the service time, and instead of 'Dr. Vernon Johns, Pastor', it reads 'Rev. Dr. Vernon Johns' with 'Pastor' on a separate line below his name. See more »


Vernon Johns: This boy lived a trifling and worthless life. He went around Montgomery daring someone to cut his throat. Saturday night somebody obliged him. He lived like a dog; he died like a dog. Undertaker, claim the body. Choir, sing.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The Producers acknowledge the significant contribution of author, Taylor Branch, to the public awareness of the life of Reverend Vernon Johns. See more »


Features The Dentist (1932) See more »

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User Reviews

20 January 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

This is must see for those who are unfamiliar with heroes of the Civil Rights Movement prior to Brown v. the Board of Education and Martin Luther King, Jr. James Earl Jones powerfully portrays a man with all of the courage of Martin Luther King, Jr., but with a more blunt and direct approach. The film masterfully shows how a leader like Dr. King and those who worked with him would have not been as effective had it not been for leaders like Dr. Johns, who were willing to "push the envelope". I teach Social Studies at Southern Nash High School in Bailey, North Carolina and I use this film regularly in class and get the best response to it of any of the films I show. In a film career that has featured numerous brilliant performances by Mr. Jones, I believe that this is his best work. The supporting cast of veteran actors Mary Alice, the late Joe Seneca, and a newcomer at the time, Nicole Leach, is top notch and they play effectively off of Jones.

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