Forgiveness Is The Path with Ronita Johnson

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Ronita Johnson is an African American daughter of a preacher who grew up initially in Louisiana and later in Northern California. Here she tells her story of a severe childhood which left her feeling shame, guilt, bitterness, and a general sense of unworthiness. She shares her journey from a devastating childhood to one of forgiveness and wholeness. Her first discovery of healing was provided by sitting in a women’s circle. She says, “In that circle I had an opportunity to look at myself through the eyes of these women with such love, with no judgment. It was unbelievable to me the fire we lit in the center of that circle. When I would go home, I would go home with the fire still in me but it wasn’t a burning fire; it was the kind of fire that created transformation and actually transmutation in me. I became a different person. I, for the first time, was able to face myself in a way with deep love.” (hosted by Justine Willis Toms)


Ronita Johnson came of age during the civil rights movement and she’s a certified integral coach and convener and guide of sacred women’s circles including a monthly forgiveness circle in Berkeley, California. Johnson has worked with inclusion and diversity issues since the 1980s.

She’s the author of:

  • Coming To Forgiveness: A Daughter’s Story of Race, Rage, and Religion (Ronita Johnson & Associates 2012)

To learn more about the work of Ronita Johnson go to

Topics Explored in This Dialogue

  • What it was like to be a five year old preacher’s daughter at a church revival meeting
  • How, as a young girl, it was difficult to set an example for the family
  • What does it mean to “listen into me” in a circle of peers
  • How does sitting in circle lead to deep healing
  • Why circle is the best place for the new human
  • How to start a circle for yourself
  • What is the difference between being in circle and therapy sessions
  • What are the first steps toward forgiveness

Host: Justine Willis Toms       Interview Date: 4/6/2012     Program Number: 3432

Music Playlist

From Album: Rhythms of Awakening
Artist: Glen Velez
2005 Sounds True #M923D 

Opening Essay: Track 01 Ostia
Music Break 1: Track 04 Waking
Music Break 2: Track 10 White Throated Sparrow
Music Break 3: Track 06 Citric Motion