Tuskegee Airman buried at Arlington
SUZANNE GAMBOA Published: Friday January 20, 2012
ARLINGTON, Va. (AP) - On the same day that retired Air Force Lt. Col. Luke Weathers Jr. took his resting place among other war and military heroes, his real-life story as a World War II aviator played out on movie screens across the country.
Weathers was buried Friday at Arlington National Cemetery in a service that began with a flyover of four F-16 jets in the Missing Man formation, a special honor reserved for pilots, by the 113th Wing of the D.C. Capital Guardians, the same unit that guards the airspace over the nation's capital.
Weathers died Oct. 15 in Tucson, Ariz., of pneumonia at age 90. His burial coincided with the official opening in theaters of "Red Tails," a George Lucas-produced movie retelling the story of the Tuskegee Airmen who debunked widely held beliefs that black pilots were incapable of fighting in combat.
Shortly after the flyover, in which one of the three jets departed from formation, a caisson pulled by six horses carried Weathers' body to his burial spot amid hundreds of the stark marble tombstones that cover the grounds of the national cemetery. An Air Force band accompanied the wagon, its drummer thumping a solemn beat as family followed on the chilly, overcast Friday morning. Family members wore red ties and scarves, as they had at Weathers' Memphis funeral, as a nod to the aviators who painted their aircrafts' tails red to set themselves apart.
Luke Weathers III, 61, said his father and other black Americans who fought in World War II did so to prove they were men, "and then they wanted their country to love them, but that didn't happen, either." Friday's ceremony, however, finally delivered recognition of his father as a national hero, Weathers said.
This kind of attention to the Tuskegee Airmen is what the elder Weathers wanted throughout his life, said his daughter, Trina Weathers Boyce. Weathers was not vain, but he wanted to share the lessons of the airmen's courage in war, their struggles for equality and their victory over a wartime enemy and over racism, she said.
"He would talk about his hard trials and tribulations to others, to children, because he never wanted us to feel like this (racism) is a reason we couldn't make it," Weathers Boyce said in a telephone interview Thursday. "He would tell us nothing good comes easy. He'd say there are going to be barriers ... and you can overcome them."
Before the Tuskegee Airmen were formed in 1941, black men were forbidden to fly for the U.S. military, even though they could be drafted. After years of struggle, the Army Air Corps began to allow African Americans to train for flight, albeit in still-segregated units.
Many of the tens of thousands of Tuskegee airmen, which included navigators, mechanics, medical personnel and others in support roles, trained from 1941 to 1949 at the Tuskegee Institute, which was founded by Booker T. Washington and was already home to an aeronautical engineering program. In the home state of the institute, Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley signed a proclamation honoring the airmen, saying they changed Americans attitudes about race relations.
More than 900 Tuskegee Airmen were U.S. pilots, said Trent Dudley, an Air Force lieutenant colonel who is president of the East Coast Tuskegee Airmen Inc. chapter. An estimated 250 to 300 Tuskegee airmen are still alive. The exact number is not known because some have not registered with chapters.
"As with all the airmen, when we lose one of them, there is a chunk of history that goes with them," Dudley said.
Defying social norms was already a family trait when Weathers was born in Grenada, Miss.
At the time, the town's railroad track served as the economic dividing line. Weather's mixed-race father and black mother defied that dividing line, which led them to move to Memphis, where they opened their own grocery store.
Years later, Weathers was studying biology at Lane College in Jackson, Tenn., when he stumbled on an article in an international newspaper about the Tuskegee Experiment, the federal government's name for the Army Air Corps training of African Americans, Weathers Boyce said.
His mother turned to the prominent Memphis family she worked for and, with the help of the family's connections, Weathers was considered and eventually accepted into their program.
He always talked about the maneuver that save his life, Weathers Boyce said. A skillful pilot, he was a target of the Germans. In one combat flight, German aircraft were pursuing him and firing. He was forced to dip down and make a few turns in his plane to keep from getting shot, she said.
Weathers flew P-51 and P-39 fighters during his service from 1942 to 1945 and earned a Distinguished Flying Cross, according to the National Guard Bureau. He and other Tuskegee Airmen were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in 2007.
After the war, Weathers went on to become the first African American air controller, run a coin-operated laundry, raise five children, open a flight school, provide vocational rehabilitation for veterans and write a book about his life story that has not yet been published, Weathers Boyce said.
"We are still educating people on the Tuskegee history," Weathers said, "because it's a big part of American history, not African American or black history, but American history."
History-Making Mayor to Speak at Lane College
The Honorable Willie Spencer will be the featured speaker at the annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Chapel Convocation in the J.F. Lane Health and Physical Education Building on the campus of Lane College on Wednesday, January 18, 2012 at 11:00 a.m.
Mayor Spencer was born and reared in Hardeman County, Tennessee and attended the Hardeman County Public School System. He is a 1967 graduate of Allen-White High School in Whiteville, Tennessee, and a 1971 graduate of Lane College.
After graduating from Lane, he accepted employment with Procter and Gamble Mfg. Co. as an Electrical Technician and shortly thereafter he was promoted to Management. His assignments included: Production Team Manager, Technical Engineer, Production Department Manager, Business Leader, Brand Department Manager and Organizational Effectiveness Manager. After 27 ½ years with Procter and Gamble, he resigned and became part owner in Bond and Spencer Contracting Services. During his time in Jackson, Tennessee, he served on various committees and boards such as the Jackson Leadership Team, Malco Bowling Board of Directors, Education Committees, and The Golden Circle Optimist Club, where he was recognized as a distinguished President.
After relocating to Hardeman County, he was elected to serve as a Hardeman County Commissioner in 2002; and in his second year, was appointed Vice Chair of the Commission. During this period, he served as Mayor Pro-Tempore due to the illness of Mayor Don Clifft. As Mayor Pro-Tem, he managed to initiate and chair the Joint Economic and Community Development (JECD) Executive Committee and Board; initiated and chaired the Three-Star Program; initiated the Dolly Pardon Imagination Library; converted the county payroll to direct deposit; and assisted two new industries in locating in the county.
In August 2006, Spencer was elected as the first Black Mayor of Hardeman County, Tennessee. As Mayor, he has managed to complete several airport projects totaling roughly Four Million Dollars; constructed a Eighteen Million Dollars Criminal Justice Center; assisted the first start-up of the county Civil Air Patrol Unit; developed computer labs throughout Hardeman County; assisted the Bolivar downtown development project; attracted the return of a flight training school to Hardeman County Airport; consolidated the E-911 operation; and provided solid leadership with integrity in managing the county’s business.
Mayor Spencer currently serves on a variety of boards including the Joint Economic and Community Development Board(Chair), Imagination Library Board, Southwest Tennessee Development District Boards (Executive Board, Rural Planning Executive Board, Regional Economic Development Initiative Advisory Board), Southwest Human Resource Agency Boards (Executive Board and Policy Council – Chair), Hardeman County Health Council, West Tennessee River Basin Executive Board, RC&D Board, Whiteville, Tennessee Technology Center Advisory Board; and The Association of Tennessee Valley Government (ATVG). He was recently appointed President of the ATVG Board which covers a seven-state area.
The Mayor is a member of the Antioch Baptist Church where he serves in many capacities; a member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc.; and a member of the Hardeman County Branch of the NAACP. He is married to Mrs. Dixie Spencer and they have four children (Yolanda, Adrienne, Brandi, and Willie Jr.), ten grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.
Spencer is the son of the late Robert and Beatrice Spencer.
President McClure Prominently Featured in UNCF/CESA National News Article
Lane President Wesley Cornelious McClure was prominently featured in a national news article on Thursday, December 1, 2011 regarding the urgent need for a program that was begun by the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) in 2009. Called CESA (Campaign for Emergency Aid), the UNCF-sponsored program has begun its campaign to raise $5 million in the current school year to help literally thousands of graduating students who need some extra money to pay off tuition or room and board balances at their schools before they graduate. The average grant for each student is $1,600.
"The economy was and is hitting our communities like a hurricane," said President McClure. "The CESA program has been a godsend," he added.
To read more, please go to: http://www.sacbee.com/2011/12/01/4092319/uncf-to-raise-5-million-to-help.html#ixzz1fPYEvGLE
Noted Lane College Professor Honored With Coveted Award
Lane College Assistant Professor of English Unoma Azuah, has been selected the 2011 Aidoo-Snyder Book Prize Winner for her extraordinary literary works that prioritize African women’s experiences. She is the author of The Length of Light, a book that reflects the predicament of everyday choices in life; and Sky High Flames, the story of a vivacious, naive, young girl who morphs into an unforgettable, strong woman.
The Aidoo-Snyder book prize is awarded by the Women's Caucus of the African Studies Association. The Caucus was established in 1975 to promote the study of gender, to ensure an active and representative role for women scholars and members of the Association within and outside the African continent, and to develop scholarly and activist links between the Association and women in Africa.
Named in honor of Ama Ata Aidoo, the celebrated Ghanaian novelist and short-story writer, and Margaret Snyder, the founding Director of UNIFEM, this prize seeks to acknowledge the excellence of contemporary scholarship being produced by women about African women. In alternate years, the prize is awarded for the best scholarly book, or for the best creative work.
Professor Azuah is a Nigerian writer considered to be one of the focal voices of the third generation of Nigerian writers because of her award winning works and pioneer essays and research on sexuality issues in Nigeria. A graduate of the MFA program at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia; she also has a Masters degree in English from Cleveland State University in Cleveland, Ohio. The University of Nigeria at Nsukka, is where she earned her Bachelor's degree in English.
The award-winning writer has conducted writing workshops and seminars in major cities in Nigeria and the United States which included workshops for incarcerated mothers and women in prison as a way of creating outlets for their expressions. Part of her focus in such workshops is to assist women in channeling their energy into literary expressions as a way of freeing their spirits in spite of their physical imprisonment.
Professor Azuah is also involved with "The Griot Collective," a poetry group that organizes workshops and readings for adults and high school students in the West Tennessee area. Her contributions to this group earned her the "Griot Hero" award in 2006. In the same year, she received "The Best Faculty," award at Lane College for her outstanding teaching, research and service to the College community.
Some of her affiliations include the International Resource Network (IRN Africa), a research and network group that focuses on sexuality issues in Africa of which she is a board member; co-editor: “Sentinel Annual Literature Anthology”; co-editor "Outliers" a creative writing and scholarly journal about sexual minority issues in Africa; and Poetry editor of Sentinelnigeria.org. She is also the faculty sponsor of the Delta Sigma Tau English Honors Society at Lane College.
Chris Dean: Life After the Limelight
On Monday, November 7, a very inspiring news story entitled “Chris Dean: Life After the Limelight,” by reporter Bonnie Kinney, aired on Memphis television station WREG. Mr. Dean, a Lane College freshman, introduced President Barack Obama during his (the President’s) visit to the Commencement Exercises at Booker T. Washington High School in Memphis in May 2011. Please view the news video for an inspirational journey.
McWherter Scholars SelectedLeft to Right: Nick Grayson, Cishley Harper, Rodney Stanback, Jr., Ernicka Willis, Bryant Stewart
President McClure today announced that the College has received official notification from the Honorable Senator Roy Herron (D-Dresden) that five Lane College students have been selected as Ned McWherter Scholars for the 2011-’12 academic year.
Cishley Harper, Ernicka Willis, Nick Grayson, Rodney Stanback, Jr., and Bryant Stewart were selected from among several applicants for this coveted award.
Harper is the daughter of Charlie and Lynn Harper, and is a native of Humboldt, Tennessee. She is a senior music major with a 3.8 grade point average. Willis is the daughter of Ernest Willis and Loretta Anderson and is a resident of Bruceton, Tennessee. She is a senior majoring in Criminal Justice and possesses a 2.6 grade point average. Grayson is a senior majoring in Interdisciplinary Studies who possesses a 3.0 grade point average. He is the son of Calvin and April Hudson, and Marvin Grayson, and resides in Jackson, Tennessee. Stanback is the son of Rodney and Rita Stanback, and is a native of Millington, Tennessee. He is a senior Computer Science major, with a 3.45 grade point average. Stewart is a junior majoring in Interdisciplinary Studies who possesses a 3.5 grade point average. He is the son of the Rev. James Stewart and Delores Stewart, and resides in Jackson, Tennessee.
Each student will receive a $5,000 stipend along with the opportunity to work with Senator Herron during the course of this school year both in Dresden and at the State Capitol in Nashville. They will also receive academic credit for their work while in the program.
The Ned McWherter Scholars Program, established in memory of the late former governor from Dresden, Tennessee is intended to encourage Tennessee high school graduates to attend college in Tennessee. The monetary award is funded by the State of Tennessee on a yearly basis. Awards are made in equal installments each semester throughout the academic year.
Noted Lane College Faculty Member L. Susan Bond Contributes to
Bold New Lectionary Resource on Social Justice
Dr. Susan Bond, Assistant Professor of Religion, is a contributor to Preaching God’s Transforming Justice: A Lectionary Commentary, Year B, Featuring 22 New Holy Days for Justice, a bold new commentary which has just been published by Westminster John Knox Press. This work is unique in that it is the first to help the preacher focus on the implications for social justice in every biblical reading in the Revised Common Lectionary. In addition, this series introduces twenty-two Holy Days for Justice. These Days enlarge the church’s awareness of God’s call for justice and the many ways that call comes to the church and world today. For example, these days include World Aids Day, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Asian American Heritage Day, International Women’s Day, César Chávez Day, Earth Day, Yom ha Shoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day), Peoples Native to the America Day, and Night of Power.
For each lectionary day and each Holy Day for Justice there is an essay that helps the preacher integrate a variety of social justice concerns into his or her preaching. The 90 contributors are a diverse group of biblical scholars, preachers, social activists and professors of preaching. The contributors are about half women and half men from a broad range of communities—racial/ethnic, denominational, gender orientation.
Bond wrote the commentary for Proper 28. She comments on passages from 1 Samuel, Daniel, the Psalms, Hebrews and John.
Walter Bruggemann, a leading biblical authority, says, “This extended commentary makes clear that when one asks fresh voices of the biblical text, one gets fresh responses. In addition to fresh interpretive voices on offer here, this volume provides special resources and guidance for the Holy Days for Justice, a new entry into the church year for treasured occasions in the life of the church and in our society. This book holds promise of transformative energy for the preaching, teaching, interpreting work of the church.”
The 544 page book is available from Westminster John Knox Press ($ 50.00): www.wjkbooks.com. The commentary will be published in three volumes—Year B (2011), Year C (2012) and 2013_
A Facebook page can be found at http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Preaching-Gods-Transforming-Justice-A-Lectionary-Commentary/201090069938085.
Lane’s Oldest Graduate Passes Away
(August 16, 2011) Lane’s oldest graduate, Mrs. Etta B. Stinson Williamson, Class of 1928, passed away this afternoon in Jackson, Tennessee. She was 106 years old.
Mrs. Williamson was born on February 27, 1905 in Holly Springs, MS; the youngest of three siblings born to her parents. Her family moved to Jackson, Tennessee when she was a few months old. Once here, she and her family joined Lane Tabernacle CME Church; and later, Mrs. Williamson joined St. Paul CME Church where she was active on several boards and auxiliaries until circumstances of age caused her to become less active. Internationally, she was one of the oldest members of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority.
During her professional career, Mrs. Williamson taught the first grade at North Jackson and Lincoln Elementary Schools and retired in 1968 after 48 years in the classroom. She was President McClure’s first-grade teacher.
In April 2008, Mrs. Williamson attended the Commencement Convocation at Oman Arena and personally received her 80th-year diploma.
Stephenson and Shaw Funeral Home of Jackson has charge of services. However, arrangements are incomplete.
Graduate and Professional School Day on the Horizon
Lane College will conduct and sponsor its annual Graduate and Professional School Day/Job Fair on Thursday, September 15, 2011, from 10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. in the J.F. Lane Health and Physical Education Building.
This event is designed to conveniently connect students, alumni, and the community with graduate and professional school representatives along with local, state and national businesses. Vendors will recruit students of all majors for internships, full-time and part-time employment, summer, and volunteer activities. Most importantly, this networking opportunity reflects Lane’s belief that the world is transformed through the power of education.
For more information, contact Ms. Virginia Crump at firstname.lastname@example.org, 731.410.6709; or Ms. Robbie Coleman at email@example.com, 731.426.7584.
In anticipation of the upcoming academic year, Lane College will conduct its Pre-School Conference on August 8-12. Members of the administration, faculty, and staff will convene at the William H. Graves Auditorium.
Homecoming 2011 will take place during the week of October 10-15. The Homecoming Celebration will feature a Prayer Breakfast, Chapel Service, and several other splendid activities. The highlight of the week will be the annual Homecoming Parade and football game on October 15 against the Tuskegee Golden Tigers. You are cordially invited to celebrate this annual event at any of the splendid events that have been planned for your enjoyment. A calendar of Homecoming events will be posted shortly.