Black History Month on Temple Hill

From left to right: Airman Burl Smith, Jay Richardson, member of the S.F. Bay Area Tuskegeee Airmen, Inc. chapter (not an Airman); Airman Les Williams with wife Elsie in the wheel chair, and Airman Clyde Grimes.

David Cunningham, President of the Bay Area Chapter of the Tuskegee Airmen Inc. and son of Don Cunningham one of the original airmen, spoke last week at  the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Temple Hill in Oakland.
He drew gasps of admiration from the audience as he described the Black pilots’ courageous escort flights for America’s World War II effort in Europe, Italy and Africa.
Three original Airmen were in attendance and after the audience showed its appreciation of their service with a thundering standing ovation.
Airman Clyde Grimes told of the racism and Jim Crow conflicts they felt when they returned home from active duty in Europe.  He recounted one incident where Airmen were almost embroiled in a brawl with military police when they were forced to leave a movie theater on their military base when they protested having to sit in the balcony of the theater while Italian and German prisoners of war were permitted to sit wherever they wished.
He recounted that the incident was defused when the Airmen agreed among themselves that they could accomplish more to end the military’s racist Jim Crow practices by returning their quarters as they had been ordered to do and continuing to serve the nation honorably without sullying their record by confronting the military police and enduring the court-martial and discipline that was likely to follow.
Post Features Editor, Conway Jones’ father was affiliated with the Tuskegee Airman. He said “the airmen should be regarded as true American heroes as much for their conduct and example in battle as well in civilian endeavors. They paved the way for the civil rights movement.”
The Evergreen Baptist Church performed several gospel hymns. The East Bay Rhythm Youth Dance Troupe rounded out the program.
On Saturday, February 20, at 5:00 PM in the church’s auditorium, former NBA star Thurl Bailey, will perform for free. Along with singing, he will speak on “What Matters Most”. After the program, he greet visitors..
On Saturday, February 27, at 6 PM, in the Church’s Visitors’ Center, the Oakland Interfaith Gospel Youth Chorus will present a free performance.