The Committee to Honor African American Heroes and Sheros had a Black History Month Awards Breakfast at the Eastwood Manor in the Bronx on February 25, 2012.
The first African-American Mayor of New York City, Honorable David N. Dinkins was the keynote speaker and honoree. He started the Beacon schools to keep the youth off the streets after school. Within four years, crime in the City went down. Dinkins’ predecessors took credit for the low crime rate.
Assemblyman Keith L. T. Wright delivered the keynote speech in Mr. Dinkins’ stead and accepted his award on his behalf.
Combating discrimination in the military was a common thread for the Tuskegee airmen and WWII Veterans. Tuskegee Airman and Retired Lieutenant Colonel, Floyd Carter recalled the War Department said that Black men didn’t have the intelligence, the coordination nor can’t be taught to fly fighter planes. Regardless what the War Department said, Lt. Col. Carter became the first and only Black Commander out of 65 officers of the 732nd Military Airlift Squadron at McGuire Air Force Base from 1970 to 1974. He was the one who taught the other 64 officers to fly C-141 Starlifters bringing that squadron from number three to number one.
When Dabney Montgomery was 19, he joined the Army. Although he was not a pilot, he was a member of the 1051st Quartermaster Company. The unit’s duty was to provide food and clothing to the airmen. For every man in a fighter plane, there were fifteen on the ground keeping them up.
After the army, he went back to his hometown of Selma, Alabama where he became a bodyguard for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1965 during one of the “Selma to Montgomery” walks.
Dr. Roscoe C. Brown, Jr. was another Tuskegee Airman being honored and his award was accepted by Cheryl Simmons-Oliver on his behalf. Dr. Brown, Jr. was traveling to promote the movie Red Tails as a consultant for the movie.
He designed the Congressional Gold Medal of Honor that 300 living Tuskegee Airmen received that took 60 years for the country to recognize them.
One woman who was being honored, Hattie B. Harris served WWII was with the medics. Her basic training at Fort Devins in Massachusetts was sleeping in segregated barracks. The women had to do relay shifts just to keep the airmen out of the barracks. The black women in the service had to deal with the discrimination and sexual harassment. It was only grace that they continued to serve and for that all the women truly need to be honored.
The entertainment for the morning was the step team from MS 180 in Co-Op City, Soldiers of Righteousness under Rita Henry, one of the parent coordinators. The spoken word was performed by a dynamic 13-year-old, Muhammed Drammeh. Latisha Seabrook was the Mistress of Ceremony.
Council Member Larry Seabrook along with Jessie W. Collins, Virginia Stewart, Jimmy Alston, Sir James L. Robinson, Verna McDavid, Anthony Barr, Jullian McDavid and Johnnie Goff contributed to a wonderful morning of fantastic history of the Tuskegee Airmen and WWII Veterans.