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Photo courtesy of the Office of Councilmember Ruben Wills
Photo courtesy of the Office of Councilmember Ruben Wills
Dabney Montgomery is an original Tuskegee Airmen. Now, Councilmember Ruben Wills wants to rename South Road to Tuskegee Airmen Way.

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.

 

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