A medallion to commemorate Henry Johnson (All Over Albany)
The following article originally appeared in All Over Albany.
posted May 14, 2018
The image above is the design for a new coin-shaped medallion the Ferris Coin Co. is producing to commemorate Henry Johnson. (You might remember the call for entries back in March.) The reverse side, which is still being finalized, will feature Albany City Hall.
The winning design is by Chris Costello, who's designed many coins and medals. A quarter he designed for the US Mint honoring the Block Island National Wildlife Refuge in Rhode Island will be released later this year.*
The Henry Johnson medals will be available in June. Ferris is making 500 of them, and the price will depend on the price of silver. A group of the coins will be set aside for winners of the Henry Johnson Award for Distinguished Community Service. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of the coins will benefit the Albany Veterans of the 369th, which worked to get Henry Johnson recognized with the Medal of Honor.
It was 100 years this week -- Tuesday, specifically -- that Henry Johnson, serving in France with the famed Harlem Hellfighters, fought off a surprise German attack of at least 12 soldiers and saved a fellow American soldier, all while being wounded multiple times. Upon his return to the United States he was initially hailed as a hero. But he was later marginalized after speaking out about the racism African-Americans faced in the military. Unable to work because of his war injuries, Johnson's personal life crumbled and he died in 1929 while still in his 30s. He's buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
In 2015 Johnson was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor during a ceremony at the White House.
* One more bit about Chris Costello, the designer: He also designed the Papyrus typeface.