Richard Johnson Center for Anti-Violence

About Richard Johnson

Richard Johnson was a 17 year old from South Philadelphia, and 2005 graduate from Saint Joe's Prep. In the classroom, he excelled in Latin, Spanish and Greek.   He ran on the school's track team and participated in the Black Cultural Club and a mentoring program. He was headed for St. Joseph's University on a full academic scholarship where he planned a double major of Spanish and Political Science.  

After college, Richard aspired to become an international lawyer and upon graduating St. Joe's Prep had already taken a summer job in a Center City law firm. He promised his mother that when he became a successful attorney, he would return to his South Philadelphia neighborhood and pay for another teen's education at his alma mater.

On July 9, 2005 these dreams were tragically cut short.  Richard, his cousin, and his girlfriend were emerging from a corner store near 20th and Tasker Streets in South Philly when they found their path blocked by a teenager on a bike. Words were exchanged, but the kid eventually rode off. Richard and his cousin escorted his girlfriend to the bus stop and continued walking when the teenager returned and opened fire on them, firing at least 16 times. Both boys were hit; Richard's wounds proved fatal. He died the next morning.

Richard's death is an example of the senseless acts of violence that take place on Philadelphia streets. His short life reminds us of the talent and potential in Philadelphia's youth that is too often overshadowed by stories of violence. The mission of the RJ Center is to use research, policy and advocacy to change Philadelphia. Through their new program, the Philadelphia Youth Solutions Project, the Richard Johnson Center aims to give a voice to young adults in Philadelphia and empower them to take a stand against acts of violence like the one that ended Richard's life.