OKLAHOMA CITY - The Oklahoma Highway Patrol is honoring a trailblazer.
Lt. Ronald Johnson was the first black state trooper in Oklahoma. He served from 1968 to 1987 and continued to recruit for the agency until he passed away in 2013.
His legacy is far from forgotten, and the OHP is now making sure every person who goes through their academy knows his name and sacrifice.
"The state of Oklahoma is better because of Lt. Ronald Johnson's service," said Damario Solomon-Simmons.
He says his uncle's journey was tough from the start.
"He had so many people that were against him in the academy that wanted him to quit, so just to get the opportunity to put the uniform on was breaking a barrier," Solomon-Simmons said.
But his struggles didn't stop there, being out on the streets was the next challenge
"He would tell me about pulling people over and they were thinking it's a joke," Solomon-Simmons said. "They were not wanting to listen to what he had to say and he had a very commanding presence, he was very stern, and so he didn't take too kindly to someone questioning his authority."
Retired Chief Jerry Cason was the first black chief of the OHP. He says Lt. Johnson's bravery inspired him after overcoming so many challenges, even in his own home.
"All of the sudden you step across that line it's like, 'Whoa. You're one of them now,'" he said. "So when you've got family gatherings, everybody's like kind of looking at you out of the corner of their eye and that's a part of that sacrifice, you know, being alienated from the group so to speak so he had to endure that also."
The OHP dedicated a plaque to Lt. Johnson; a move they say is long overdue. It will now be in the third floor of the training center where recruits live during the academy.
"It's important that these younger troopers come in understanding the sacrifice. It's not just about being first, it's the sacrifice, the total sacrifice that made him who he was," Cason said.
"I think for the highway patrol, the state troopers, to honor him, Lt. Ronald Johnson, in this way at this time when there's so much division in our nation and in our state, it means everything for his legacy and his sacrifice to be known from here to eternity," said Solomon-Simmons.