2219 Barhamville Road
C.A. Johnson High School
Known locally as “C.A.J.,” the high school located on Barhamville Road opened in 1949 and was dedicated the following year to Cornell Alvin Johnson, supervisor at that time of Columbia’s African American schools. Johnson was a giant in the segregated educational system of Columbia, beginning his career as a teacher at Howard School in 1914, the city’s first—founded in 1869—and for many years, only African American school. When Johnson taught English at Howard, the school had a student body of about 900 students and twenty-five teachers, all housed in the two-story frame building. C.A.J. High School opened initially with the capacity for both junior high and high school students and was intended to relieve crowding at nearby Booker T. Washington High School. Today, the school serves 430 students in grades 9-12.
Alumni of C.A.J. remember the school with fostering a strong work ethic and challenging academics, as well as providing a solid base of support from committed teachers and staff. Perhaps one of C.A.J.’s most famous graduates, Charles Bolden Jr., credits his high school alma mater with serving as a “model” for his successful career as Major General in the U.S. Marines and a NASA astronaut and administrator.
In addition to a strong academic tradition, C.A.J. boasts championship quality athletics, winning the state title in boys’ basketball as recently as 2014.