Negro Airmen International, Inc. 41st Annual Memorial Day Fly-In, “From Selma to Tuskegee, Making an Economic Impact”
Tuskegee, AL (BlackNews.com) – For the past 40 years, the Negro Airmen International, (NAI) “Black wings in Aviation,” the oldest black civilian aviation organization in the world, has sponsored a “Fly-In,” during the Memorial Weekend, at Moton Field, Tuskegee, Alabama. It is one of the most celebrated events of the south. This year they promise the event will be more exciting as many new groups come from all over to take part in the Memorial Day festivities.
The theme for this year is OPERATION HOMECOMING: From Selma to Tuskegee, Making an Economic Impact. Coming to take part in this year’s event will be the Bio Fuel Racing Alliance, Atlanta, Georgia; The Atlanta Metropolitan Black Chamber of Commerce; members of the East Coast Bad Boys Sport Bike Club; CND Promotions; Alabama Black Farmers Association; and the Organization of Black Farmers.
These very different groups have come together for two major purposes, to celebrate Alabama’s premier role in Black Aviation, and to inject much needed dollars into the Black Belt.
The Black biker allies have a national membership of about twenty-five thousand, which normally attend Black Biker Week at Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. This year all roads lead to Alabama, as they travel to take part in making an economic impact in the Black Belt. Biker leaders Big Bam and Ice both agree that Myrtle Beach does not really want African-Americans there, and the Black Belt and mayors of the cities surrounding this Memorial Day weekend event welcomed them with open arms. “Every biker who wishes to visit Tuskegee for the Fly-In is welcome in Tuskegee. Think of our town as your home away from home,” announced the Honorable Johnny Ford, mayor of Tuskegee.
Alabama’s black belt includes some of the poorest counties in the United States. Along with high rates of poverty, the area is typified by declining populations, a primarily agricultural landscape with low-density settlement, high unemployment, poor access to education and medical care, substandard housing and high rates of crime. The Black Belt is also a area which has a rich African American history. There are places like Selma, home of the Edmund Pettus Bridge and the passage of the Voting Rights bill. Montgomery, Alabama, known for Rosa Parks and the Bus Boycott; Tuskegee, known for George Washington Carver and Booker T. Washington. Against this backdrop NAI and their allies are determined to bring money to an area richly deserving investment and often overlooked for tourism. The location for the Fly-in will be expanded this year to include cities in the Black belt like Selma, Montgomery, and Shorter Alabama. Thursday May 22, 2007, the celebration will begin in Selma, Alabama and end Sunday night, May 25, 2007 in Tuskegee, Alabama, with the annual Ed Gibbs banquet.
Moton Field is the birthplace of the world famous Tuskegee Airmen. The Tuskegee Airmen are a black group of Aviators who received the Congressional Gold Medal last year for their aviation accomplishments during WWII. Moton Field is also the place of the soon to be dedicated Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site. Many of the Original Airmen will return to Moton Field for the Memorial Day event. Sam Jones, the National president for NAI says, “Next to a Tuskegee Airmen convention, you will find the most Airmen at this event, because it’s like a home coming for them, visiting family and friends.” Sam says that many of the Airmen are still members of NAI.
Edward Gibbs founded NAI in 1967 along with other trainers of the Tuskegee Airmen. Many of other major African American Aviation groups found their roots in NAI. Another notable member of NAI was Alfred “Chief” Anderson, a self-taught aviator who is known as the father of African American aviation. Anderson is also known for his flight of Eleanor Roosevelt, the wife of President Franklin Roosevelt. His flying the first lady lead to the deployment of the Tuskegee Airmen and to them making history representing our country in World War II.
Many aviation enthusiasts from around the country make their way to Tuskegee during the Memorial Day Celebration to be a part of this event. This year promises much more as Bikers, Race Car Divers, and Entrepreneurs join the Aviators in an attempt to make a difference. In the past, entertainment consisted of groups like Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, Roy Ayers, and Blue Magic. They also listened to speakers like Dick Gregory and George Curry. Children from the age of five and above were given airplane rides. This year promises more of the same, along with bike races, race car exhibitions, farm products, and empowerment seminars. There will also be an opportunity for our audience to participate in the production of Bio Fuel at Moton Field.
You can get more information and register for hotel and program events by going to www.blackwings.com, or by contacting NAI president Sam Jones at 912-232-1710 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Event registration will be available on line by January 15, 2008. We are looking for other brothers and sisters from around to help us make a difference. Sponsorships opportunities are still open.
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