African-American History - Rosamond Johnson
Pensacola's black community continued to prosper in spite of segregation and “Jim Crow” laws imposed at the end of the Reconstruction Era that continued into the 20th century. Segregation was extended to the beaches, and Pensacola Beach was "whites only." Among the few beaches open to African-Americans was Rosamond Johnson Beach on Perdido Key, now a part of the Seashore.
Private Rosamond Johnson, Jr. was killed on July 26, 1950 during the Korean Conflict. Having carried two wounded men to safety under enemy fire, he was killed going back for a third, becoming the first African-American from this area to die in that conflict.
How many of the visitors enjoying Johnson Beach today notice the modest memorial to this man? How many know that Johnson joined a long roll of African-Americans who have fought for this country in every war since the Revolution? The contributions and experiences of African-Americans in Pensacola are a bigger part of our history than many suspect. Theirs is a remarkable tale of contributions and successes in the face of constant struggles and overwhelming obstacles.
Did You Know?
Gulf Islands National Seashore's Fort Massachusetts, on West Ship Island 12 miles off the Mississippi coastline, was covered by the 30-foot storm surge from Hurricane Katrina on August 29, 2005. The fort has been reopened to the public.