BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — A Birmingham comedian and activist was named as one of the 100 most influential Black Americans of 2020.
Jermaine “FunnyMaine” Johnson, best known for his humorous videos on Alabama football and, most recently, being involved in a protest held in downtown Birmingham over the summer regarding the removal of Confederate monuments, was named on “The Root 100” by The Root, a website that cover issues in the Black community. The list names people staff at The Root felt were the most influential Black people in America for the year between the ages of 25 and 45.
Johnson, 40, joins the ranks of people like former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace, “Lovecraft Country” creator Misha Green and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones who were named on the list.
“It’s our way of honoring the innovators, the leaders, the public figures and the game changers whose work from the past year is breaking down barriers and paving the way for the next generation,” Root staff wrote in a statement attached to this year’s list. “This year’s list of honorees is a reminder of the beauty and brilliance of Blackness, at a time when the political and cultural landscape has grown even more hostile to the idea of Black achievement.”
On May 31, Johnson was one of the speakers at a protest in Linn Park, where people demanded that Confederate monuments there be removed. The Confederate Soldiers and Sailors Monument was later defaced and damaged with hammers and rocks by protesters and a statue of Birmingham businessman Charles Linn was torn down. As the night went on, several downtown businesses were damaged, some reporters were injured and several protesters were arrested.
The city of Birmingham later dismantled the Confederate monument and removed it from Linn Park, an action that cost them $25,000 in fines for violating the Alabama Memorial Preservation Act.
Days later, authorities charged Johnson with inciting a riot, a Class A misdemeanor. On June 17, the charges against Johnson were dropped.
“I am humbled and grateful to be selected to The Root 100,” Johnson said in a statement. “I want to share this honor with all the people who showed up to Linn Park that night and let them know I will always fight for the City of Birmingham. There is more work to be done and we will get it done.”
The full list of honorees can be found here.
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