York College (www.york.cuny.edu) is the nexus for Tuskegee Airmen who have roots in the Jamaica community. Several of them have developed an ongoing relationship with York, which is the only CUNY College to have an Aviation Institute and a BS in Aviation Management. Over the years, the College has hosted several events recognizing and honoring them for their heroism and achievements as well as their place in American social, cultural and military history.
Given the aviation connection at York and the demography of our location (situated between two major airports), we are finalizing plans, with the assistance of both a nationally respected exhibition planner and a curator, to open the Tuskegee Airmen Gallery at York College in the near future. Prior to the official installation, several components of the interactive, state-of-the-art exhibit will be available to preview at the York College Foundation’s 2nd annual benefit, Tuesday, April 21, 2009 at the College’s Performing Arts Center. The goal of the gala is to raise funds for scholarships to recruit and retain better prepared students. The Foundation has awarded more than $500,000 to almost 300 students over the past three years, including those in the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) Honors and Aviation Management program.
The Gallery will be a “journey of encounters” with the Airmen – before, during and after the war. The Gallery will partner with the Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site (http://www.nps.gov) in Alabama to rotate exhibits and serve as a unique educational experience that involves history, sociology, anthropology, music, literature, theater and the science surrounding aviation. There will be displays for awards, posters, banners, kiosks, timelines, statues, and audio visual features.
“One of the highlights of our upcoming annual benefit is to salute the accomplishments of the Tuskegee Airmen. In fact, the father of the evening’s performer, the Tony-award winning stage and film actor Brian Stokes Mitchell, is a Tuskegee Airman,” said York College President Marcia V. Keizs. “This new gallery is an inspired continuation of our longstanding relationship with these celebrated American heroes.”