Frank Johnson, known as the “mayor” of Macon’s Unionville neighborhood, died Sunday. He was 89.
Johnson was among the first black Marines, known as the Montford Point Marines. He later went to work at Robins Air Force Base and retired there.
On March 7, 1965, he marched with a group of civil rights protestors over the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, according to Lonnie Miley, who was close friends with Johnson. When the protestors reached the other side of the bridge, they were brutally attacked by police. Many were hospitalized and the incident became known as “Bloody Sunday.”
About 20 years ago, when Miley was in his 40s and Johnson in his late 60s, Miley started working with Johnson in efforts to pick up litter in Unionville.
“I remember going out there and thinking ‘This old man is about to work me to death,’ ” Miley recalled. “He passed along to me that if you believed in something, that in itself would energize you.”
A recreation center in Unionville is named in Johnson’s honor.
Bibb County Coroner Leon Jones said Johnson died at a Macon nursing home after an extended illness.