School board member, Albany High senior honored on Henry Johnson Day

Recipient of Henry Johnson Award for Distinguished Community Service #1

Albany Board of Education member Tabetha Wilson on Wednesday was awarded the Henry Johnson Award for Distinguished Community Service by Mayor Kathy Sheehan.

And Albany High School senior Irene Nelson received a scholarship from the Albany Housing Coalition for her essay on what Henry Johnson means to her.

Their recognitions were a part of the third annual Henry Johnson Day celebration and the city's observation of the 101st anniversary of Henry Johnson's actions in combat that earned him a posthumous Purple Heart, Distinguished Service Cross and U.S. Congressional Medal of Honor.

Fittingly, the event took place in Henry Johnson Park, located between Colonie Street and Livingston Avenue on Henry Johnson Boulevard.

The Henry Johnson Award for Distinguished Community Service is given in the spirit of Albany resident Henry Johnson, in honor and recognition of his selfless service and his drive to go above and beyond the call of duty.

Besides serving on the Board of Education, Tabetha Wilson works for the New York State Office of Temporary Disability Assistance, the agency overseeing programs for low-income residents. She Recipient of Henry Johnson Award for Distinguished Community Service #2also serves on many non-profit boards including AVillage Inc., the Capital District New Leaders Council and Grand Street Community Arts.

"I am honored, humbled and completely surprised that my peers thought to nominate me for this award,” Wilson said. "This is of great significance to me personally because of the intersection between Arbor Hill – where I grew up -- and Sgt. Henry Johnson, a heroic figure in our collective hearts, for his fearlessness in the face of war, and his outspokenness against racism.” 

Wilson received a minted silver commemorative Henry Johnson Medal.

Irene Nelson is a member of Albany High’s Sgt. Henry Johnson Junior ROTC battalion. She represented Albany High at the prestigious Empire Girls State during the summer 2018. Her scholarship – $1,000 each year over four years – came from the Albany Housing Coalition, a group that works to find housing for veterans.

Nelson is currently trying to decide whether to attend SUNY Polytechnic Institute or Hudson Valley Community College this fall.

Henry Johnson was an infantry soldier who served during World War I, a time when African-Americans and whites were in  segregated units. Serving with the French on the front line, Johnson’s actions in combat earned him France’s highest military honor, the Croix de Guerre avec Palme. All his U.S. honors were awarded posthumously.

The mission of the City School District of Albany is to educate and prepare all students for college and career, citizenship and life, in partnership with our diverse community. The district serves about 9,300 students in 18 elementary, middle and high schools. In addition to neighborhood schools, the district includes several magnet schools and programs, as well as other innovative academic opportunities for students, including four themed academies at Albany High School.