The old North Street School is a reminder that it hasn’t been so very long ago that black and white schoolchildren were not permitted to take classes together.
And the late Robert W. Johnson, a member of the celebrated Tuskegee Airmen, is a reminder that heroism, be it in military service or in service to the community, is colorblind.
History will remember Johnson as one of Hagerstown’s leading citizens. He is a man of whom Hagerstonians can be proud.
Following integration in 1956, Johnson became the first black teacher and coach in Washington County’s integrated public schools. Lewis Metzner, a Hagerstown City Council member and a former student of Johnson’s, said all the boys regarded him as a hero — not even knowing of his service with the Tuskegee Airmen, the nation’s first black aviators who served in World War II.
It is right that Johnson’s name and his good work not be forgotten. We join the sentiment of the 300 people who petitioned to name the Memorial Recreation Center in his honor.