Alicia Purdy Celebrates Local WWI Hero Henry Johnson

For immediate release

June 7, 2021, Albany, N.Y. — Albany mayoral candidate Alicia Purdy joined Albany residents as well as Albany city and county leadership to commemorate the 105th anniversary of the enlistment of Henry Johnson into the all-Black 369th U.S. Army Infantry Regiment during World War I. During the event, a wreath was laid at Henry Johnson’s statue in Arbor Hill bearing the colors of the 369th— burgundy, gray, and white. Local historians and leaders took turns sharing aspects of Henry Johnson’s life, and Ronald Wilson, president of the Albany District of the 369th Veterans Association, recounted the story of how Johnson not only rescued fellow soldier, 17-year-old Private Needham Roberts, while singlehandedly repelling an enemy raid in Northern France, but at the same time, he sustained 21 wounds and continued to battle bravely.

According to Purdy:

“I was, once again, moved by the life of local hero, Henry Johnson, as his story was told to celebrate his heroic service to the United States of America. Albany is filled with a diversity of stories of men and women who have given everything to change the world, one life at a time, and Henry Johnson is an exceptional example of the power of the human spirit. However, because of the acceptable social norms of racism in Johnson’s day, his heroic acts were dismissed, downplayed and soon forgotten- a true injustice. Today, however, Johnson has been posthumously awarded a number of well-deserved honors, including the Presidential Medal of Honor and events like these are significant because they help keep the memories alive of hometown heroes from communities that are rich with stories of American exceptionalism.

As Mayor of Albany, I will continue to reach into our city’s many diverse communities in order to facilitate communication, seek out pathways upon which our African American residents can travel to success, showcase African American heroes that will inspire future generations and prioritize the rebuilding of Albany’s destroyed economy through meaningful support of black-owned businesses and homeownership, and opportunities to break out of the ghettos and slums that they have been relegated to by Albany’s ruling class, who have repeatedly victimized and stripped the black community bare over the past 100 years.”

To learn more about Albany’s hometown hero Henry Johnson, read his biography from the U.S. Army as well as The Albany Institute of History & Art.

To contact Alicia, email

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Published by Alicia Purdy

Alicia Purdy is an independent, multi-media journalist with an M.A. in Journalism and a B.A. in Broadcasting. Learn more at:

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