National Airmen group honors promise to move headquarters to Tuskegee

October 11, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

National Airmen group honors promise to move headquarters to Tuskegee

Community News Editor
Tuskegee News

Updated Sep 30, pharmacy 2010 – 06:25:07 EDT

Tuskegee Airmen, cialis 40mg Inc. president Leon Johnson, right, talks with Tuskegee Mayor Omar Neal about TAI’s relocation of its headquarters to the Human and Civil Rights Multicultural Center.

A full circle has been completed. The Tuskegee Airmen, Inc. (TAI) National Headquarters is finally located back where it began — Tuskegee, Alabama.

Currently the headquarters is located on the second floor of the Tuskegee Human and Civil Rights Multicultural Center, with final plans being made for Hanger No. 2 at the Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site at Moton Field.

“It is the Alpha and Omega of the program,” said Brigadier General (Ret.) Leon Johnson, National President of TAI.

Members of the TAI?Executive Committee held a reception at the new headquarters Thursday, September 23. Community leaders present during the reception included Dr. Charlotte P. Morris, Interim president of Tuskegee University, Attorney Fred D. Gray, Tuskegee Mayor Omar Neal, State Rep. Pebblin Warren (D-Tuskegee) and Lt. Col. Herbert E. Carter, an original Tuskegee Airmen.

TAI was created to honor the accomplishments and perpetuate the history of  black Americans who participated in air crew, ground crew and operations support training in the Army Air Corps during World War II. The organization also introduces young people across the nation to the world of aviation and science by programs as Young Eagles and TAI youth programs and activities.

TAI also provides annual scholarships and awards to deserving individuals, groups and corporations whose deeds lend support to TAI’s goals. TAI also gives awards to deserving cadets in the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps.

“What we want people to know that TAI is not an exclusive organization,” Johnson said. “It is open to all people who want to preserve the rich documented heritage and legacy of the original Tuskegee Airmen.”

The Art of J. Withers

June 10, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 


Hi All, more about

This is Jacqueline Withers, case

A great thing happened this year while working on mural number 13 with eighteen (18) students at the Aurora Tech Academy, order through the arts and history program, keeping this legacy (of the Tuskegee Airmen) alive. First I would like to thank my chapter (Detroit) for all their support in featuring these children and their hard work in The Hawk’s Cry Newsletter.

I have 15 students that want to be pilots. This year the mural was featured on 150 T- Shirts that were worn by participants of the 2nd Annual Super Spelling Bee 2010, honoring the Tuskegee Airmen. The students that worked on the mural are second (2nd) through sixth (6th) grade. The little ones did not want to be left out. The Spelling Bee is huge here (in Denver) and I never thought, in my wildest dreams, that children would be wearing a piece of the mural that represents the Tuskegee Airmen.

This was also shown at the Fox Theater (Denver), Aurora Tech Academy, Eastwind, Faith Christian, Harrison Street, Faith Prep Learning, Little Debbie’s Dreams and Tubman Hilliard Global Academy. I would like to thank Michael Glover for all of his hard work as Photographer and the Denver Chapter Tuskegee Airmen Lt.Col Vorry Moon and Col John Smith. Even though times are hard it does not stop me from doing everything that I can to keep this history, past and present, alive through the youths. The Take Flight project is surely taking flight. I thank God for the gift and for being a part of a great chapter.

Thank you so much Detroit Chapter, I have been quite busy with school and trying to keep these children positive. We are also getting ready to do a short educational film on aviation. These children have at least 20 hours in it already. I will send you a copy of the video. It will be honoring the history of the Tuskegee Airmen. My goal is to submit this to some film festivals. There will be four parts to it. I will mail the chapter a t- shirt so it can be a part of our history and the Airmen their can sign it and may be put it in the museum. I will have the children sign it as well.

Your Artist
Jacqueline Withers



June 10, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

By Vince Saunders

Bessie Coleman Collage As we gathered under a tent at Chicago’s Lincoln Cemetery to pay tribute to legendary pilots Bessie Coleman, more about Willa B. Brown and Janet Harmon, find the blue sky was slightly overcast with high scattered clouds that promised a small chance of afternoon rain.  Organized by chapter pilot Rufus Hunt; on Saturday, May 1st, the Chicago Chapter of TAI conducted its 31st Annual Salute to these pioneering female aviators.  Fortunately, the late rain limited to a sprinkle, only dampened the grass rather than our mood.  It turned out to be a good day and our spirits were brighter than the sky.

The program was initiated by Civil Air Patrol Cadets from Thornwood High School. Commanded by recent graduate, 1st Lt. Harding who marched the cadets ¼ mile from Lincoln’s administration building to the program site, posted the colors, then withdrew to join the other program attendees under the tent.  The Invocation was delivered by Chapter Member Alcus Cromartie followed by an excellent program introduction from our Mistress of Ceremonies, Ms. Aida Abraha.  Ms. Abraha also provided recognition of our OTAs in attendance, Mr. Bev Dunjill and Milton Williams.  The program was also attended by descendants of Georgia Coleman (Dean Stallworth, Jr., et al), Bessie Coleman’s youngest sister.1921 Article in the Chicago Defender

We were then given a gracious welcome by Ms. Diane Nowak, General Manager of Lincoln Cemetery, representing our organizational partner and host.  Ms. Nowak discussed essays on Bessie Coleman and other pioneering aviators prepared by students

from the Kipling elementary school.  Their essays focused on why the program is so important to the youth of our community in that it helps ensure that the legacy of these aviatrix is never lost.  Ms. Nowak reminded us that both Bessie and Willa Brown are interred at Lincoln and noted that a memorial to Janet Harmon, who is buried in Arizona; will be provided for next year’s ceremony.

Lewis Addison representing the Bessis Coleman Branch of the Chicago Public Library system; read a resolution from Congressman Danny K. Davis, who noted the legacy of these famous aviators and their pioneering contributions to the field of aviation.  Tributes were then provided by Ms. Stacy Letton on the legacy of Willa Brown and Ms. Sandra Campbell, on the legacy of Bessie Coleman.

Ms. Letton presented to us how through the combined efforts of Willa Beatrice Brown and  Cornelius R. Coffey, they contributed to the pre-WWII training of approximately 200 of the some 2000 aviation students who went on to become Tuskegee Airmen pilots.  Ms. Letton also discussed how Chicago became the nucleus of Black Aviation during the 1920s and 30s.

Influenced by the aviatrix Bessie Coleman, Willa Brown started taking flying lessons in 1934 and in 1937 she became the first African-American woman to get a commercial pilot’s license. After relocating to Chicago from Gary, IN, she became a member of the Challenger Aviation Club, the Air Pilot’s Association, and the Chicago Girls Flight Club.  Also in 1937 she purchased her own airplane and co-founded the National Airmen’s Association of America (NAAA) with her husband, Cornelius Coffey. The Association’s goal was to promote African-American aviation.

Ms. Letton also told us that Willa was instrumental in establishing the Coffey School of Aeronautics. And in doing so, she fulfilled Bessie Coleman’s long standing dream of a black owned private flight  school. As the president of the Chicago branch of the NAAA, Willa led a successful fight to integrate African Americans into the U.S. Army Corps.

Promoted to the rank of Lieutenant, Willa became the first African American officer in the Civil Air Patrol. She was a member of the Federal Aviation Administration’s Women’s Advisory Board and became the first African American woman to earn a commercial pilot’s license. Willa added still another first to her prestigious career when in 1946 she became the first African American woman to run for Congress.

In 1941, she became a training coordinator for the Civil Aeronautics Administration and a teacher in the Civilian Pilot Training Program.  At the outset of WWII, Ms. Brown was the first black woman to hold a commission in the U.S. Civil Air Patrol.

The following year, she became the first African-American member of the Civil Air Patrol. She also promoted aviation on the radio and taught it in high schools. In 1972, Brown became a member of the Women’s Advisory Committee on Aviation in the Federal Aviation Agency.

Bessie Coleman_1921 French Pilot's License

Bessie Coleman 1921 French Pilot’s License

Sandra Campbell, who is a member of the Heart of America chapter of TAI, provided a superb presentation which she calls, “Follow Your Dreams”, based on the life of Queen Bess.  The audience was enraptured by her historical depiction of the life of the legendary aviatrix. The metaphors she used, such as her passion for “purple jelly beans”, provided good lessons on life skills, so important for the many young people in attendance.  “Success” she told them, “develops when preparation meets opportunity.”  Speaking as Bessie, she recalled how with help from Robert Abbott Sengstake who encouraged her to go to night school to learn how to speak French, told her “you can do it Bess.”  And so with financial support from Sengstake and the money she earned as a hairdresser in 1920 Chicago, she traveled to France where in 1921, she became the first African American woman to earn her pilot’s license.Relying also on the wisdom   learned from her Native American father who told her, “don’t take no for an answer”; because “remember Bess, every no you encounter only brings you closer to a yes”.  Her father, discouraged by racism in early twentieth century Texas, left the family when Bessie was still a youth to find a better home for them among his own people.  He told them that Jim Crow didn’t live in Indian Territory; his last words to young Bessie were, “follow your dreams.”

Ms. Campbell has been telling the “Bessie Coleman Story” around the country since 1995.  She says that she is in the Aviatrix Willa Brown in flight suit_1938process of training and mentoring her successor and looking forward to retiring from

her public speaking career in the near future. If you haven’t seen one of her presentations, look for a video clip of “follow your dreams” on the chapter website (, by the end of June.

Following the presentation by Ms. Campbell, pilots from the Chicago and Detroit Chapters of Tuskegee Airmen, made several in-formation flyovers of the event.  At about 500 feet and buffeted by a 20 knot wind, a flower drop over the gravesite of Bessie Coleman was made by Chicago pilot Rufus Hunt.  The two 3-ship formation included Chief Pilot Ken Rapier flying a Piper Cherokee, Victor Croswell also flying a Piper Cherokee, Marvin Williams flying a Piper Warrior, Juan Haygood (Detroit), flying a Gruman Tiger and Robert Bejna and Rufus Hunt, both flying Cessna 150s.

The cost of the event was offset in part, thanks to the efforts of chapter members Sheila Chears-Webber, Sonjia Hall and Patricia Allen, who managed our merchandise sales operation.

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