ABOVE: City of Houston Proclamation presented to the Tuskegee Airmen by Dr. Steven Hall, Director, Veterans Affairs, City of Houston
The Houston community came out to celebrate Ford Motor Company Fund, Texas premiere of “Our Voices: Our Stories – The Tuskegee Airmen” – a new documentary that focuses on the stellar military careers of Tuskegee Airmen Lt. Col. Alexander Jefferson and Lt. Col. Harry T. Stewart Jr. The screening of the documentary took place on Monday, May 6 at Space Center Houston, with both Jefferson and Stewart in attendance. Serving as mistress of ceremonies for the event is CNN’s weekend anchor Fredricka Whitfield, whose father served as a member of the Tuskegee Airmen. A special proclamation in honor of the airmen was presented by the office of Mayor Sylvester Turner by Steven Hall, Director of Veterans Affairs.
“Heroes are often humble and frequently shy away from telling their own story, so it is up to all of us who value their contributions to make sure they are heard,” said Pamela Alexander, director of community development, Ford Motor Company Fund. “Ford Fund was proud to showcase these military heroes in our new “Our Voices: Our Stories” documentary series to help ensure that their legacies are shared – through their perspective and in their own voice.”
The evening’s festivities began with a special reception in the Space Center Starship Gallery followed by a screening of the documentary in the Space Center Theatre. A panel discussion featuring Jefferson and Stewart will immediately followed the film.
“The documentary is about two riveting first-person accounts of what life was like as combat pilots in the 332nd Fighter Group during WWII and is a lesson in perseverance and bravery for all ages, said Brian R. Smith, Ph.D., president, Tuskegee Airman National Museum. “Many thanks to the Ford Fund and Jesse Nesser for their support of the Museum’s mission.”
Ford Fund is launching its new “Our Voices: Our Stories” documentary series to highlight the inspirational stories of African Americans who have accomplished things no one thought possible – achievements that shaped our country’s history or are laying a foundation for its future. The documentaries will be screened at community events and used for educational purposes at schools, universities, cultural institutions and museums nationwide. A teaser of The Tuskegee Airmen documentary – the first episode of the new series – can be viewed here.
“Our Voices: Our Stories – The Tuskegee Airmen”
Jefferson is a retired U.S. Air Force officer, famous as one of the Tuskegee Airmen, who were deployed to Italy with the 301st Fighter Squadron of the 332nd Fighter Group. He served in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II, participating in many successful missions protecting bombers and strafing enemy targets on the ground. Tuskegee Airmen pilots, like Jefferson, soon became well known for their tenacity and skill as escorts, eventually being requested by bomber crews. His book “Red Tail Captured, Red Tail Free: Memoirs of a Tuskegee Airman and POW” is a personal memoir of those who served America in World War II and after.
Stewart was also a U.S. Air Force officer in the 301st Fighter Squadron of the 332nd Fighter Group where he flew 43 missions in combat and amassed an outstanding record. He is widely acclaimed for being one of only four Tuskegee Airmen with three aerial victories in one day, amazingly taking down three German Focke-Wulf 190s on April 1, 1945, where he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for the effort. Stewart was also a part of the team from the 332nd Fighter Group that won the first-ever Air Force fighter gunnery competition in 1949 – a grueling 10-day event held at what is now Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada for all military fighter groups. Despite flying obsolete single-engine P-47 aircraft for the event, they led from the start and won in the conventional aircraft division.
Ford Fund is a major sponsor of the Tuskegee Airmen and the Tuskegee Airmen National Historical Museum, which will soon make its permanent home inside the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit and present the “Our Voices: Our Stories” documentary for visitors to learn about the heroic efforts of America’s first black military pilots.
Ford’s longstanding support of the African American community dates back to the early 1900s when it was the first automaker to pay employees of all races the same wage. Today, the Ford Fund continues to build on that legacy with numerous initiatives that celebrate and empower African Americans. Two signature programs include Ford First Gen, a program that provides first-generation college students support to help them stay in school, and Ford Freedom Unsung, which celebrates individuals who have made significant contributions in their communities while inspiring others to also have a positive impact.
For more information on Ford Fund’s support of the African American community, visit http://fgb.life.