Tag Archives: Tuskegee Airmen

Council approves Jamaica street renaming for Tuskegee Airmen

| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Councilmember Ruben Wills

The City Council voted last week to memorialize the Tuskegee Airmen with a Jamaica street sign for their remarkable bravery during World War II.

A bill to permanently change the name of South Road between Merrick Boulevard and Remington Street to Tuskegee Airmen Way passed the Council unanimously on November 14.

Original crew members Dabney Montgomery and Wilfred Defour attended the stated Council meeting to show their support for the renaming.

“There are so many young people who don’t know the difficulties that their elders had to go through for them to be where they are today,” Montgomery said.

The airmen were the first black military aviators in the United States Armed Forces and fought against Nazi Germany.

“The Tuskegee Airmen have played an extraordinary part in America’s history and the civil rights movement,” said Councilmember Leroy Comrie. “By renaming part of South Road Tuskegee Airmen Way, we are helping to ensure future generations of Americans will remember their dedication, and look to them as examples of heroism in the face of extraordinary obstacles.”

After returning home, “they established themselves by becoming entrepreneurs, giving back to their communities and breaking down racial barriers,” Comrie said.

The airmen’s legacy will also be memorialized at CUNY York College. Currently, plans are underway for a tribute, such as a museum, on the campus along the new Tuskegee Airmen Way.

Of the 944 pilots, 80 were from New York and six of them were from Jamaica.

“This is the way you gain power, by proving that you can do the positive thing that others are doing,” Montgomery said.

The bill, introduced by Councilmember Ruben Wills, now awaits the mayor’s signature.




Pol wants to rename Jamaica street in honor of Tuskegee Airmen

| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the Office of Councilmember Ruben Wills

The Tuskegee Airmen broke the race barrier as they flew through the skies and fought the enemy during World War II. Now, one southeast pol wants to honor them at home.

The “Tuskegee Experiment” was developed in the 1940s by the Department of War to assess whether black men could function under pressure and operate and maintain combat aircraft.

“We not only fought, we won,” said original Airman Dabney Montgomery.

On October 3, the City Council’s Parks Committee held a hearing on renaming South Road in Jamaica to “Tuskegee Airmen Way.”

“Etching their name in the permanent fabric of our city through the renaming of this street is a fitting tribute to the sacrifices they have made to protect our liberties and integrate the United States Armed Forces,” said Councilmember Ruben Wills.

Montgomery said he hopes the renaming could educate youngsters about what “their elders had to go through for them to be where they are today” and be able to see the name of “real heroes” in their community.

Mongomery, 90, worked in the airmen group’s ground crew from 1943 to 1945. He explained each pilot during the war had over a dozen people working to get them safely up in the air.

“It was the people on the ground level, people on the mountain base [and] people on the mountain top doing the job for the whole world,” he said. “Everybody is important. This is what we are saying.”

The Parks Committee hearing also allowed for testimony from children of deceased Tuskegee Airmen who settled in Jamaica. A written statement of support for the street renaming from Commissioner Terrence Holliday from Mayor’s Office of Veteran Services was also provided.

“They said we couldn’t fly a plane. We proved them wrong,” Montgomery said. “Young people should be aware of what we have done.”

The renaming proposal will now be voted on by the Parks Committee and then the City Council.

If it passes in City Council, it will be submitted to the mayor to sign and the name change will be effective immediately. There is no specific time frame.