ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — For the first time the celebration of Henry Johnson Day was held in a school — his namesake, the Henry Johnson Charter School. 

“When you speak of bravery, when you speak of courage, when you speak of leadership, one name comes to mind, and that’s Henry Johnson” said 369th Infantry Veteran Ronald Wilson.


“Names are given with purpose and intention, and so the name on this building was given with purpose and intention” Albany Chief City Auditor Dr. Dorcey Applyrus told students.

June 5th marks 106 years since Henry Johnson enlisted in the 369th infantry, later known as the Harlem Hell Fighters. 

The infantry didn’t see any fighting until a year later when teamed with a French unit, Johnson single handedly fought off a German raid, saving the life of a fellow French soldier. 

In France, Johnson was hailed as a hero, receiving a top military honor, but in the US received he received little military recognition. 

“He fought in a war, and him and other black soldiers weren’t treated like other white soldiers were treated” fourth grader Devon Williams told News10.

Despite his heroism and accolades, Johnson died destitute in his thirties. Nearly a century after Johnson’s death, President Obama granted him the nation’s highest military award, The National Medal of Honor, in 2015.

Today the Purple Heart recipient has a street named after him, and a statue of him in the city of Albany. 

WATCH News10 Stories Anytime on YouTube