Tubman Exhibit Honors Johnson and Montford Point Marines
EDITOR’S NOTE: I have been asked to write a brief bio of Frank Jones Johnson for a plaque which will be displayed in the Tubman Museum honoring Johnson and Eugene Mosley, two Maronites who were among the first Blacks to serve in the United States Marine Corp. Here is my inscription.
Frank Jones Johnson (1927-2016) was born in West Bibb County, Georgia in a section of the county known as Unionville. The community acquired its name because the residents preached unity of purpose to address social concerns in the community by helping each family. It was this sense of helping others that would guide the life of Frank J. Johnson.
In 1942 President Franklin D. Roosevelt opened the United States Marine Corp to Black citizens. Prior to this time, Blacks had served in the Army, but none had been deemed qualified for the rigorous service in the Marines. Johnson was a high school student at Hudson High School in Macon, Georgia when the doors of the Marines were opened to Blacks. As the war waged in Europe and in the South Pacific, Johnson dropped out of high school and enlisted in the Marine Training program at Munford Point, North Carolina.
Johnson was among the first 20,000 Blacks who successfully completed the training program at Munford Point which served as a segregated unit until President Harry Truman integrated all branches of the armed forces in 1949.
Following his tour of duty, Johnson returned to Macon, Georgia and enrolled into Hudson High School to complete his education. After graduation Johnson enrolled at Savannah State College on a football scholarship where he excelled athletically and academically.
Johnson graduated from Savannah State College and returned home. He immediately became active in civic activities. He organized Boy Scout Troop 50 to service young boys in the Unionville community, where he taught his scouts some of the survival skills he had learned in the Marines.
Johnson later joined with local Black leaders to push for civil rights in the Middle Georgia area. In 1974, he co-founded the Unionville Improvement Association with two of his Boy Scouts, Gerald Harvey and Harold Michael Harvey. His dedication to improving the Unionville community earned him the title of the Mayor of Unionville.
Harold Michael Harvey is an American novelist and essayist, the author of Paper puzzle and Justice in the Round, Easier to obtain Than to Maintain: The Globalization of Civil Rights by Charles Steele, Jr.; and the host of Beyond the Law with Harold Michael Harvey. He can be contacted at haroldmichaelharvey.com.