Lauren Johnson is a member of the Class of 2021 from Maplewood, New Jersey. At Princeton, she is majoring in African American Studies with a certificate in French. Originally in the English department, she transitioned to African American Studies as it offered a better lens which strayed away from the problematic western canon and offered more intriguing readings which led to more engaging conversations in her seminars. She has a strong love of literature, and specifically is interested in contemporary black writers and expat writers who lived all throughout Europe. This interest stems from her great-grandfather, Sam Wooding, who was failing as a black jazz musician in the United States in the early 1900’s. He along with his orchestra The Chocolate Dandies relocated to Europe where they performed in Germany, Turkey, Tunisia, Russia and Belgium between 1924 and 1931. Lauren also has enjoyed her classes where she has had the chance to produce creative projects through using the archives accessible at Firestone and Mudd Library. These projects were heavily inspired by scholar Saidiya Hartman and poet M. NourbeSe Philip.
On campus, Lauren is a peer academic advisor in Mathey College, a learning consultant at the McGraw Center, a Fields Fellow at the Carl A. Fields Center, volunteers for the suicide hotline CONTACT, and works at Mendel Music Library. Throughout her time at Princeton, she has loved the opportunities in which she has been able to travel, such as to Senegal through Princeton’s Bridge Year Program, Detroit through a Breakout Trip that discussed gun violence, Alabama through a trip organized by the Office of Religious Life that explored lynching, religion, and mass incarceration in the South, Polyface Farm in Virginia through the Service Focus Program where students discussed food justice and sustainability, and France through a Princeton course over the summer. She is unsure of her plans post-Princeton but is heavily considering pursuing a Ph.D. through graduate school.