Date of Award

Fall 2016

Degree Type




Director of Thesis

Dr. Bobby Donaldson

First Reader

Dr. Shauna Cooper

Second Reader

Dr. Shauna Cooper


This thesis is about Frank Johnson Sr. and the circumstances that led to his downfall as a farmer and father of six, to his tragic death in the isolation of a racially segregated mental institution 18 miles away from his home. Using his life and incarceration at the South Carolina State Park mental health facility, I argue that racial injustice contributed to his tragic death and the woefully inadequate treatment thousands of African Americans in South Carolina received during Jim Crow. Additionally, I argue that the tragic circumstances around my great grandfather’s institutionalization and death were part of an enduring pattern that perpetuated the level of mistrust towards the mental health care system among African Americans that persists to this date.

Through extensive research, I have been able to discover the circumstances that led to the institutionalization of Frank Johnson Sr. In addition to this discovery, I also believe that I have been able to formulate three potentially viable theories regarding the events that occurred leading up to his institutionalization, during his stay at South Carolina State Park Hospital, and the circumstances that led to his violent and sudden death. Through an examination of my great-grandfather's life, it is my hope to present readers with an analysis of the types of treatments African Americans living in South Carolina endured while being institutionalized at a time when blatant racism was openly practiced, in parallel of a time when medical practices in the mental health care system were still fairly new.


© 2022, Jonathon P Johnson