Black History Month sometimes comes and goes without us ever realizing it. I remember Black History Month when I was a kid, and we always leaned about who I would call the big three, Martin Luther King Jr., George Washington Carver, and Rosa Parks. Although the big three helped change the scope of our country for the better, we have so many more individuals before and after them who have gone almost unnoticed. I would like to make a pledge to learn about Black History for 365 days, starting now.
This time of focus all started with "Negro History Week," and for all of my life, it’s been Black History Month. I’m grateful for anytime we can teach one another about Black History, but let’s not limit it to only the month of February. If we do so, eventually it won’t be Black History, it will all be American History.
I am proud to say that I am doing my part by continuing the legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen, the all-black fighter squadron of WWII. 365 days out of the year, I make it a point to spread the message to our youth about the sacrifice and injustices they encountered while defending a country that did not see them as equal citizens. One Tuskegee Airmen I would like to focus on at this point is Lt.Col. (Ret.) Lee A. Archer, Jr. Mr. Archer died recently and joined what the Tuskegee Airmen’s National organization calls the “Lonely Eagles”.
Lee was one of the celebrities for the Tuskegee Airmen, but if you knew him on a personal level as I did, he never came across that way. Lee was born September 1919; he was a graduate of class 43G-SE; and during combat action in WWII, he flew 169 missions and scored four confirmed air combat victories. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal with 18 clusters, the Distinguished Unit Citation, and many other service medals and citations. I first met Mr. Archer in the fall of 2003 at an airshow in Houston, Texas, and through the years, I have had the pleasure of talking to him at different events. I was blessed to join Lee Archer and other Tuskegee Airmen in a suite at the old Yankee Stadium, where they were honored before the game. Mr. Archer called New York home, but he spent some time in Texas as well.
He visited Southwest Airlines on two different occasions; the last time was when Southwest Airlines dedicated a Boeing 737-700 aircraft to the Tuskegee Airmen. Lee Archer used his life experiences during WWII to teach students about the importance of education, and believed that they can achieve the goals that they set for themselves. Let’s continue this for him…365.