Ernest E. Johnson: His work let Arlington play.
In 1949, Arlington County formally established a Department of Recreation. Mirroring the public school system, all classes, clubs and activities sponsored by the Department were segregated. In 1950, the Negro Recreation Section was created. Its director was Ernest E. Johnson, a vital figure in the County's African American community, who ultimately oversaw the desegregation of Arlington's public recreational facilities in the early 1960s.
On May 8, 1982, Arlington celebrated Ernest E. Johnson Day with a parade that began at the Walter Reed Recreation Center and ended at the Carver Recreation Center, a softball game that afternoon, a senior tea, and a testimonial dinner that evening.
Under the Department of Recreation's Neighborhood Playground Program, 30 playgrounds operated in the summer of 1950, with Jennie Dean Park the only facility for African Americans. It wasn't just sports—music, storytelling, group singing, picnics, movies, special events and performances were part of the outdoor programs. Softball leagues, tournaments, field trips, pageants and talent show were featured as well.