(LAS CRUCES) -- City of Las Cruces leaders are helping keep a former mayor's memory alive by celebrating his achievements and honoring his legacy.
Alfred Rucks is getting ready to honor his cousin, Albert Johnson, who always worked to improve the quality of life around the community.
"This is a man that was fully devoted to making Las Cruces a better place to live and he had tremendous devotion to his family, to his church and to his community," said Rucks.
Johnson was born and raised in Tennessee. He graduated from college with a civil engineer degree and later moved to the Land of Enchantment to work at White Sands Missile Range. Soon after, the became heavily involved in politics.
"He's the first African-American mayor in the state of New Mexico and also the City of Las Cruces," he said.
Current Mayor Ken Miyagishima is honoring Johnson with a portrait that will sit in the lobby of City Hall. It's created by Ben Hazard who's art also sits in the White House.
"Las Cruces is a great community and that we honor those who lay the infrastructure and the ground work and the great things that we have here today and Mayor Johnson among others also helped and contributed a great deal of things that we have, that we are fortunate and thankful for in Las Cruces and I think that's one thing I want people to see," said Miyagishima.
Johnson was elected to the City Commission in 1968 and served as Mayor of Las Cruces from 1976 to 1980. Johnson died in December 1984, but his legacy lives on.
"One of things Mayor Johnson was instrumental in doing was making sure that we had a fun for street maintenance. Right now to the tune of over six million dollars and we get every year because of Mayor Johnson's vision that has allowed us to do a lot of up keep on a lot of our roads and streets through out the city," he said.
Besides the portrait, the late mayor has a park dedicated to him with a statue that stands in front of Branigan Library.