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C.V. Starr Center for the


Study of the American Experience

Airlee Johnson

Chesapeake Heartland Community Historian

Airlee Ringgold Johnson is native of Chestertown, Maryland. She graduated from the historically  Black Garnet High School. She attended the University of Maryland’s Eastern Shore where she obtained a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. She also earned a Master of Science Degree in Human Resources Management from the University of Utah’s European Campus.

As a volunteer for Washington College’s Starr Center, she has served as an outreach historian the past five years. Airlee helped to coordinate various activities such as the Smithsonian’s Museum on Main Project. As a Community Historian for Chesapeake Heartland: An African American Humanities Project, she serves as the primary contact and coordinator for the Chesapeake Heartland’s community curation efforts: locating, digitizing and preserving documents as well as providing resources for community residents to curate and share this history.

Airlee has served as the chair and co-chair for Kent County’s Legacy Day activities for past seven years. The celebration highlights the cultural heritage of the African American community in Kent County.  She is a founding member of the Social Action Committee for Racial Justice. The committee works with community members to decrease the racial inequity in Chestertown. The organization focuses on inequality in the areas of education, political, criminal justice, and community unity in bringing the races together.

Airlee worked as co-curated an exhibit for African American Entrepreneurs of the 50’s and 60’s in Kent County, MD. In 2008, she was awarded the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Humanitarian Award by the Chester Valley Ministers Association.