Rename Memphis International For Black Aviation Pioneers Jimmie Lunceford & Luke Weathers
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To Whomever Reads This & Is Inspired To Be Apart Of A Positive Change That WE, THE PEOPLE, CAN ALL BELIEVE IN:
I believe that the Memphis International Airport should be renamed after two true American heroes and aviation pioneers who actually once called Memphis,TN their home:
1.) Jimmie Lunceford aka 'The Father Of Memphis Music Education' & 'The King Of Swing.' The 1st High School Band Director In Memphis City Schools History, He Selected His Best High School Students From Manassas High School & Along With His College Buddies From Fisk University, He Formed Arguably The Greatest Swing Band Of The 1930s & 40s, The Jimmie Lunceford Orchestra. He Also Was A Pilot & Avid Flyer Who Owned 3 Airplanes During His Lifetime.
2.) Lt. Col. Luke J. Weathers, Jr., Original Tuskegee Airman & First African American Air Traffic Controller In Memphis, TN. June 25, 1945, In Memphis,TN, Was Officially Declared "Luke Weathers, Jr. Day" & He Became The 1st African American To Receive The Key To The City Of Memphis & Was Honored With A Parade Down Beale Street.
"WHY NOT???" & "WHY IT NEEDS TO HAPPEN!!!"
- If New Orleans Airport Can Be Named For Louis 'SATCHMO' Armstrong...
- If Jackson, MS International Airport Can Be Named For Medgar Evers...
- If Baltimore, MD International Airport Can Be Named For Thurgood Marshall...
- If Birmingham, AL International Airport Can Be Named For Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth...
- If Atlanta International Airport Can Be Named For Maynard Jackson...
- THEN WHY CAN'T THE MEMPHIS INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, LOCATED IN A MAJORITY AFRICAN AMERICAN CITY, BE RENAMED AFTER AFRICAN AMERICAN HEROES WHO WERE ALSO AVIATION PIONEERS WITH MEMPHIS CONNECTIONS/ROOTS???
I can only imagine the wonders it would do for the psyche and confidence of young Black Memphians growing up in a city where the positive and inspirational legacies of Black men who were once proud Memphians are properly honored and visible on a daily basis in a very public way. In a city known for well documented racial division and polarization as well as the infamous and tragic assassination of the late great Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the very public burial place and equestrian statue of Nathan Bedford Forrest, the notorious slave trader, Confederate Civil War General (War Criminal) & 1st Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard, this gesture could possibly go a long way in properly healing generational trauma that continues to inflict this city which still has so much potential to be exceptionally great.
Who Was Jimmie Lunceford???
"Jimmie Lunceford has the best of all bands. Duke [Ellington] is great, [Count] Basie is remarkable, but Lunceford tops them both."
-- Legendary Swing Band Leader Glenn Miller
"Jimmy Lunceford was buried here in Memphis. The spot he occupies should have something of a special significance. ... He took a group of relatively unsophisticated Memphis colored boys and welded them into an organization which scaled the heights of musical eminence. ... He presented something new in the way of musical presentations by Negro orchestras. Lunceford and many others like him chose to remain at home, and with their people. [His death] should have meaning in inspiration and guidance to others. If we permit it, Lunceford's burial in Memphis can mean this."
--Legendary Memphis Educator And Syndicated Columnist Nat D. Williams
"Manassas had the first orchestra of any school in the city with Mr. Lunceford. He was a good disciplinarian, a good teacher, and the students just had a fit over him. Lunceford played sophisticated jazz. I used to practice with them."
-- Kathryn Perry Thomas, Beloved Memphis Educator & Manassas High Class of 1932 (JimmieLunceford.com, 2008)
"He would come over to the school each and every time he would play Memphis. His band would perform for the [Manassas] student body, and our band, the Little Rhythm Bombers, would play for him. This is where most of us, as students, saw him. He would bring the big band over to Manassas and perform."
--Memphis Music Great, Educator & Manassas Rhythm Bomber Emerson, Jr. (JimmieLunceford.com, 2008)
WHY #JimmieLuncefordMatters #Jazznocracy2017
On June 6, 1902, in Fulton, Mississippi, a music genius was born!!! Although in 2009 he was finally awarded a long overdue brass note on the street (Beale Street) that he helped made famous, the tantalizing question still remains for many in 'The City of Good Abode': Who Was Jimmie Lunceford???
Jimmie Lunceford was the first high school band director in Memphis City Schools History. He started music education in the Memphis City Schools as a volunteer at the first public high school that went to the 12th grade for Blacks in Shelby County, Manassas High School. Ironically he was not hired to be a music instructor but a physical education instructor in addition to being the football, baseball, basketball and track coach as well as English/Spanish and sometimes history teacher. He started the first high school band at Manassas High School with no money, but with a lot of self-determination and self-confidence. He knew that music could help in building black youths' self esteem and instill community pride. Jimmie Lunceford through his pioneering efforts also started the first jazz studies program in U.S. public schools history. He eventually selected nine of his best music students and several college friends from Fisk University to form arguably the greatest jazz swing band of the 1930s and 1940s.
His band became known as 'The Chickasaw Syncopators' and was very popular locally, appearing at many Memphis area dances and even on the radio....They first recorded on June 6, 1930, Lunceford's 28th Life Affirmation Day...1930 is also the year that Jimmie Lunceford quits the day job and pursues his dream of music stardom full time.
In 1934, the Jimmie Lunceford Orchestra eventually took over as the house band at the legendary Cotton Club where they literally became household names due to live regular national radio broadcasts from that venue. His Orchestra was nicknamed 'The Harlem Express' because of their overwhelming popularity NATIONALLY with the African American dance community of the 1930s & 40s... His fame also extended beyond that proud community for he was also recognized by the larger national and international audiences as well...
The Jimmie Lunceford Orchestra was the top attraction at the legendary Apollo Theatre for a whole decade and was the first Black jazz orchestra to integrate the prestigious Paramount Theatre in New York City (which included back-to-back sold out engagements for several weeks)…
Jimmie Lunceford was nicknamed 'The King Of The Battle Of The Bands' because his orchestra would constantly beat the best bands of the day in music competition and fan appeal which included Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Chick Webb, Benny Goodman & Glenn Miller...Jimmie Lunceford was also a 'movie star' (orchestra performed in the popular 1941 movie musical “Blues In The Night" and also in a 1936 film short) and his songs appeared in numerous popular cartoons of the day as well.
He owned and flew his own airplanes at a time when African Americans were not even allowed to attend flight schools in the U.S. During his lifetime, Lunceford owned 3 Cessna airplanes which cost him over $30,000 each back in the 1930s and 1940s. He would sometime fly his airplanes to gigs.
Jimmie Lunceford was also a philanthropist. He gave large sums of money to start music education programs throughout the country to keep kids out of trouble and in school. He also wanted to start a retirement community for Black musicians as well. He was truly a man ‘of’ as well as ‘ahead’ of his times.
READ: Southern Exposure: Searching for clues to the death of a bandleader~Memphis man comes to study Lunceford mystery:
Unfortunately, Jimmie died under ‘mysterious circumstances’ at the peak of his career on July 12, 1947, while signing autographs in Seaside, Oregon. He was only 45 years old. His funerals were attended by thousands in both New York and Memphis. Unfortunately, the mortal remains of Jimmie Lunceford and his legacy it seems has laid forgotten about in historic Elmwood Cemetery in south Memphis for almost 70 years…Until now…
***PLEASE SUPPORT THE 2017 JIMMIE LUNCEFORD JAMBOREE FESTIVAL & THE LONG OVERDUE DOCUMENTARY ON THE LIFE OF THIS EXTRAORDINARY HUE-MAN BEING!!!***
Who Was Lt. Col. Luke Weathers, Jr.???
Luke J. Weathers, Jr. Was The First African American In Memphis, TN To:
- Have A Day In His Honor
- Be Given The Key To The City
- Be An Air Traffic Controller
Video: Tuskegee Airman Lt. Col. Luke Weathers Jr.
BY SARAH | NOVEMBER 8, 2014 · 1:34 PM
As Veterans Day approaches, it seems like a great time to talk about Luke Weathers, Jr.
As one of the original Tuskegee Airmen, Lt. Col. Luke Weathers, Jr., received the Purple Heart and the Distinguished Flying Cross with seven clusters for the dozens of missions he flew over Europe and North Africa during World War II. He was honored with a parade on Beale Street for “Luke Weathers Day” on June 25, 1945, and received the keys to the city — all part of a larger effort to raise money for the war effort. The campaign raised enough to pay for a B-24 Liberator, and it was named “The Spirit of Beale Street” in honor of the community that funded it.
After the war, Lt. Col. Weathers continued to break barriers, becoming the first African-American air traffic controller at the Memphis Airport, and helping to bring other minorities into the field.
Lt. Col. Weathers was buried at Arlington National Cemetery on January 20, 2012, with the full honors he deserved: a four-jet flyover in “missing man” formation, a horse-drawn caisson, a 21-gun salute, and the playing of “Taps.” We are extremely grateful to the Weathers family, especially his son, Luke III, for sharing these photos and stories with us.
By Chelsea Place, Pentagram Staff Writer January 31, 2012
He was a Tuskegee Airman in history, but to his Family he was known as husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather. Retired Lt. Col. Luke J. Weathers Jr. died Oct. 13, 2011 at the age of 90 in Tucson, Ariz. and was buried in section 64 in Arlington National Cemetery Jan. 20.
During his time in service from 1942 to 1945, he flew P-51 and P-39 planes. Weathers flew in the 302nd Fighter Squadron as part of the Tuskegee Airmen 332nd fighter group during World War II. While in the European theatre, Weathers shot down two German planes in November 1944 while escorting Army Air Force bombers. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his actions. In 2007, President George W. Bush presented 300 Tuskegee Airmen, including Weathers, with the Congressional Gold Medal for their service in World War II.
Former Tuskegee Airmen retired Col. Charles E. McGee, an attendee of the funeral, explained there were really five phases to the Tuskegee Airmen. The Tuskegee experience produced 992 pilots, but thousands served behind the scenes in communications, administration, medical, kitchens and other services. Of these, there is no clear number of how many are still alive.
"I think our experiences helped open doors for equal access and equal opportunity," said McGee at a reception held in the Women in Military Service for American Memorial in ANC following Weathers' burial. "There are still a lot of doors closed, so the fight isn't over yet. One day, I want [the nation] to be all-American -- not black, white, green or whatever."
Weathers is survived by five children, 10 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren. He is also survived by his widow Jacqueline Weathers.
"I married a beautiful human being; he was a kind, loving, humble person," said his wife. "The life he lived sort of spoke to that." She described Weathers as being Family-oriented. Although he was proud of what he did during the war, he didn't "wear it out front to say 'This is what I did,'" rather he took it as an opportunity to teach people about the Tuskegee Airmen's history.
His eldest son, Luke J. Weathers III, remembered meeting Tuskegee Airmen through his father and only then learning just how important a role his father played during World War II.
He would be asked, "'Did you know your dad did this? Did you know your dad did that?' and I'd go back and [he would say], 'Yeah, yeah. I did that.' That's the kind of guy he was," said Weathers III. He explained that his father didn't willingly tell his war stories.
Annie Weathers, married to Weathers III, described her father-in-law as quiet, sweet and a Family man. She talked about her father-in-law and how he would call her husband every year on his birthday.
"It's hard to describe, he was kind of a suave man, very debonair. He was just the epitome of a man. He taught me everything I know," said Rashida Crute, a granddaughter. "He instilled many things in me … [to] always put your Family first, [that] education is important, [how] your name is you, [to] keep as clean as possible, strive to do the best … and not worry about what anybody else thinks."
The history of Weathers and the other "Red Tail" pioneers' stories are passed on through the generations ensuring this important part of American history isn't lost.
Rashida was the only grandchild born on the east coast. Because of this, she spent a great amount of time with her grandfather and was raised by him along with her mother. She would go to numerous Tuskegee Airmen events with her grandfather. "He taught me a lot of lessons. One is to keep my head up. There will be people that don't like me for a number of reasons. Just keep my head up and keep going."
Weathers broke barriers becoming the first African-American air traffic controller in Memphis, Tenn., during his 25 years with the Federal Aviation Administration. He also became the first African-American member of Little Flower church in 1963. He tried to raise his kids to not let barriers stop them, according to the tribute to Luke Weathers in the reception program.
"That's what my father instilled in me. You can get what you want, you just have to persevere. If you believe in something you can achieve it," said Trina Weathers, one of the airman's daughters.
The task to bury him in ANC became even more urgent after finding out that the Jan. 20 date they had chosen was also the release of "Red Tails," a film highlighting several Tuskegee Airmen stories including that of Weathers. Determined to make the date happen, she went through the channels to fulfill her father's request.
Prior to the release of the movie, former Tuskegee Airmen were invited to view the movie, including McGee.
"The facts are true," said McGee, who flew alongside Weathers in Italy. "The movie is a story bringing a lot of history together in a short period of time. They can only tell part of the story, but I think it was very well done."
The burial, conducted in 40-degree weather, was completed with full military honors. Included in the ceremony was a caisson pulled by six white horses, an escort party, casket team, firing party that shot off a three-rifle volley, along with The U.S. Air Force Band and a bugler to play taps.
The U.S. Air Force Honor Guard presided over the burial. Shortly before the ceremony began, the 113th Wing, also known as the "Capital Guardians," flew over the gravesite in a four-jet flyover in "the missing-man" formation in honor of the life and service of Weathers.
"The Tuskegee Airmen were dedicated heroes who gave so much for this country," said Brig Gen. Jeffrey Johnson, 113th Wing commander, in a media release. "It is an honor to perform a flyover for this brave American."
At the end of the ceremony Air Force Chap. (Col.) Charles Cornelisse, presented the American flag to Weathers' widow.
Cohen and Acting FAA Administrator Honor Lt. Col. Luke Weathers, Jr., Tuskegee Airman and FAA Air Traffic Specialist:
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