MACON, Ga. — In Macon, you can find the legacy of Frank Johnson still going strong. Johnson's willingness to serve in the community he grew up in can be found at the Tubman Museum and the county recreation center named after him.
In 1942, president Frank Roosevelt allowed African Americans to enlist in the United States Marines. Johnson, who was in high school at the time, dropped out and joined. He and almost 20,000 African Americans were sent to basic training camp in Montford Point, North Carolina. More than 400 miles away from Macon.
"He was big in stature and he joined the Marines so he could send money back to his mother," his daughter Cheryl Johnson said.
When he returned, he got his degree from Savannah State College and came back to the Unionville area to make a difference.
Johnson organized Boy Scout Troop 50, made sure the streets were paved and street lamps installed in Unionville, and initiated the building of a recreation center. His daughter told 13WMAZ, Johnson never had a rec center growing up and wanted a place where kids could come.
The Frank Johnson Recreation Center is located on Mercer University Drive. There, you will find supervisor Clarence Thomas, who says he operated the center just how Johnson would want.
"It's an honor, it's a pleasure, and a privilege to serve at a location where that man's namesake actually is on. Every day that we come here, we operate in that context. We also remember all the things that Frank Johnson has become a noteworthy figure in history for," Thomas said.
Thomas enjoys working at the rec center. He says Johnson and the other Montford Point Marines should be considered heroes.
"These were Black men who segregated the marines at the height of segregation," Thomas said.
At the Tubman Museum, you can find a display commemorating Johnson and other military men.