Frank H. Johnson – Real Estate Developer, Business Owner & Minister
A conversation with Lola Johnson Gauff
“In Fairmount Park, where the only public swimming pool was located, Black and Mexican families could swim in the pool one day each week – the day before the pool was drained and cleaned for the next use by Whites.”
In the 1930s, Rev. Johnson’s daughter Alice and a friend went to the Fairmount Park plunge on a day other than “Thursday”, the designated day for blacks to swim. The girls were refused a ticket to enter the pool. Outraged, Rev. Johnson contacted Los Angeles Attorney Burton M. Cerutel and sued the city. It was suggested a plunge be built for the black community. Rev. Johnson had no objection to this, but insisted blacks should be allowed to swim in any city operated plunge. Lincoln Park Pool was constructed as a compromise to the lawsuit. The suit was eventually dismissed, and blacks were allowed to swim whenever the Fairmount Park plunge was open.
Ironically, years earlier, it was Rev. Johnson’s business, Riverside Carriage Exchange that provided laborers and horses to assist in clearing the Tulle Beds at Fairmount Park in preparation for the construction of the pool.
In addition to being a Minister, Real Estate Developer, business owner, Rev. Johnson studied law and spoke Spanish fluently.
In later years, Rev. Johnson, concerned that no blacks sat on the jury, did a census in the community to determine how many registered voters resided in each household. When the city fathers were notified about the census, they called Rev. Johnson in for a talk. His actions opened the door for blacks to become part of the jury process.