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Art program honors Tuskegee Airmen

By Staff
TOUR OF DUTY Retired Lt. Col. Alva N. Temple reflects Saturday on his experiences during his tour of duty with the Tuskegee Airmen. The event was sponsored by the Meridian Museum of Art and the Delta Nu Zeta Chapter of the Zeta Phi Beta Sorority. Photo by Paula Merritt / The Meridian Star
By Chris Allen Baker/staff writer
Feb. 17, 2002
One of the original Tuskegee Airmen and artwork depicting contributions to American war efforts were honored Saturday during a program at the Meridian Museum of Art.
The program, also sponsored by the Delta Nu Chapter of the Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, was part of a month-long recognition of African-American heritage and contributions to society during national Black History Month.
One of the original Tuskegee Airmen, retired Lt. Col. Alva N. Temple, gave more than 150 people attending the program an insider's view of the airmen's contribution to American efforts in World War II.
Temple said based on past battles at that time, he was convinced of America's air superiority over the battlefield and wanted to do his part. He was unaware of a government report claiming that persons of color should not be allowed to become pilots because they lacked the physical and mental abilities.
Temple and other Tuskegee Airmen proved critics wrong in 1,578 missions that he said claimed about 400 enemy aircraft and earned about 150 Distinguished Flying Cross medals for the squadron.
Artist James Conner's recent work includes scenes of military air combat fighters leaving and landing on aircraft carriers, actual air combat and renderings of the Tuskegee Airmen.
The museum exhibit also includes drawings by second graders at Northeast Elementary School who were recognized during Saturday's program.