Fake It ‘Till’ You Make It: Passing as White, The Albert Johnston Story

1 Posted by - September 28, 2021 - Black History, History, LATEST POSTS

Dr. Albert Johston might have been just about one of the most well-respected and honored X-ray specialist and men during his career. However, there was a secret he was carrying, one that was starring most of his patients, friends, and even his children right in the eye.

Dr. Johnston grew up in Chicago. After completing high school, he attended the University of Chicago Medical School in the 1920s. He would later marry and become one of the most successful radiologists in a small community in New Hampshire.

The Johnston’s were actually black but because of their fair complexion, they led people, even their own children, to believe they were white. They kept the secret for 20 years. Johnston made the decision to not tell people of their actual race so that he could secure an internship. What Dr. Johnston did is known as ‘passing?’ Something that was common among a lot of lighter complexioned blacks during that time.

The truth about Johnston’s racial identity came out when he applied for the Navy. He was rejected because of his racial background. It didn’t take long for word to get out about the family being of mixed race.

The 1949 motion picture ‘Lost Boundaries’ directed by Alfred L. Werker was a film based on William Lindsay White’s book of the same name, a non-fiction account of Dr. Albert C. Johnston and his family who passed for white while living in New England in the 1930s and 1940s.




No comments