Return to search page.
Birch, Augustine Edward
Birth Year : 1908
Death Year : 2000
Birch, born in Winchester, KY, was the son of Eva Downey Birch and Edward Eginton Birch. He was a supervisor for the Apprentice Information Center of the Cincinnati Bureau Employment Services, a division of the U.S. Department of Labor. Birch was director of the Cincinnati Apprenticeship Information Center in 1969 when it was one of three centers in Ohio, and one of 35 centers in the United States. Access to the apprentice training programs was suppose to be a step toward getting hired in the trade industries. June 1963, the Cincinnati NAACP had charged that racists practices barred Negroes from journeymen jobs and participation in the union-controlled apprenticeship training programs in the building trades industry. May of 1965, only 100 Negroes had been allowed entrance into the 11 apprenticeship centers in the U.S. The efforts to desegregate the centers had been a long and ongoing fight. Augustine Birch retired in 1977 as an intake supervisor for the Cincinnati Apprentice Information Center. His other employments included supervisor with the Cincinnati Recreation Department and employee counselor at Wright Aeronautical Corp. Birch was a 1931 graduate of Kentucky State University, he was class president, a featured tenor soloist, and had participated in the college choir. He was a member of the Cincinnati Chapter of the Kentucky State University Alumni Association, and served as chair of the scholarship committee beginning in 1975. The Augustine Birch Scholarship is named in his honor. Birch was also a Tuskegee Airman with the U.S. Air Force during WWII, he enlisted in Indiana on October 8, 1943, according to his military enlistment record. For more see "Here are addresses of the U.S.A.'s 35 Apprenticeship Information Centers," The Machinist, 04/17/1969, p.8; and see "Deaths - Augustine Birch, 92, was job counselor," The Cincinnati Post, 08/25/2000, News section, p.19A. For more of the segregated Apprenticeship Information Centers, see H. Hill, "The Negro wage earner and apprenticeship training," Crisis, June-July 1961, vol.68, issue 6, pp.335-341[online at Google Book Search]; H. Hill, "Job crisis in the urban north," Crisis, November 1965, p.565-572 [online at Google Book Search]; R. Marshall and V. M. Briggs, Jr., "Negro participation in Apprenticeship Programs," The Journal of Human Resources, 1967, vol.2, issue 1, pp.51-69.
Subjects: Aviators, Employment Services, Military & Veterans, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Union Organizations
Geographic Region: Winchester, Clark County, Kentucky / Cincinnati, Ohio
Brown, John Michael
Birth Year : 1950
J. Michael Brown is the first African American to be appointed Secretary of the Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Cabinet; he was appointed by Governor Steve Beshear in 2007. Brown was born in New York, the son of John Sylvester Brown and Cora Lewis Brown. He is a graduate of City College of New York, where he earned his undergraduate degree in political science. He was a paratrooper and infantry officer in the 82nd Airborne Division, where he piloted helicopters, and was later stationed at Fort Campbell, KY, with the 101st Airborne. Brown remained in Kentucky, graduating in 1979 from the University of Louisville School of Law. He has served as a Louisville District Court Judge and as Law Director for the City of Louisville. For more on Brown's career, see L. Lamb, "J. Michael Brown tapped as new Justice Cabinet Secretary," Inside Corrections, vol. 1, issue 4 (January 2008), pp. 1 & 6-7 [available online]; and J. Michael Brown, a Kentucky.gov website.
Subjects: Aviators, Lawyers, Military & Veterans, Migration South, Judges, Appointments by Kentucky Governors
Geographic Region: New York / Fort Campbell, Christian County, Kentucky / Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky
Chappell, Roy M.
Birth Year : 1921
Death Year : 2002
Roy M. Chappell, a Tuskegee Airman, was born in Williamsburg, KY. Chappell attended high school in Monroe, Michigan; he was the only African American in his graduating class. He next attended Kentucky State College [now Kentucky State University] where he majored in chemistry; he left school his junior year to join the service during World War II. His aviation career began when he was a volunteer with the 477th Bombardment Group, and he later served at Godman Field at Fort Knox, KY. He participated in the Freedman Field Mutiny when 104 African American officers protested for equal treatment in the military. After his military service, Chappell settled in Chicago. He graduated from Roosevelt College [now Roosevelt University] and taught elementary school for 30 years; he was also a post office supervisor. The Roy M. Chappell Community Education Center at Kentucky State University was named in his honor. A historical marker, honoring Roy M. Chappell, is at the Briar Creek Park on South Second Street in Williamsburg, KY [note from Laurel West, Williamsburg City Council Member]. For more see HR1074 92 General Assembly and Roy Chappell Biography in The History Makers.
Subjects: Aviators, Education and Educators, Migration North, Military & Veterans, Postal Service, Community Centers and Cultural Centers
Geographic Region: Williamsburg, Whitley County, Kentucky / Monroe, Michigan / Chicago, Illinois
Chappell, Willa B.
Birth Year : 1906
Death Year : 1992
Willa Brown Chappell was born in Glasgow, KY, the daughter of Hallie Mae and Eric B. Brown. She left Kentucky for Gary, Indiana, and in 1932 graduated from Indiana State Teachers College [now Indiana State University]. She earned her master aviation certificate from Aeronautical University in 1936, her master's degree from Northwestern University in 1938, and her commercial pilot certificate and instructor's rating and radio license from Coffey School of Aeronautics in 1939. Chappell was employed as a school teacher before becoming a pilot: she taught at Roosevelt High School in Gary, Indiana, 1927-1932. In 1939 she was a federal coordinator of civilian pilot training. Chappell settled in Chicago. She was the first African American woman to become licensed as a pilot in the U.S. and the first African American in the Civil Air Patrol. Chappell founded the National Airmen Association of America and trained more than 200 students who became Tuskegee pilots. She and her husband, Cornelius Coffey, owned and operated the first flight school for African Americans. Chappell was also a political activist, in 1945 she organized the Young Republican Club of the Second Ward of Chicago. She was an unsuccessful Republican candidate for Congress in 1946. For more see Willa Brown and Willa Brown Chappell, websites created and maintained by the Aviation Museum of Kentucky; the Willa B. Brown entry in the Chicago Negro Almanac and Reference Book, edited by E. R. Rather; and K. Heise, "Willa Chappell, pioneer Black pilot," Chicago Tribune, 07/21/1992, Chicagoland section, p. 9.
See photo image of Willa B. Brown [Chappell] at flickr by Black History Album.
Subjects: Aviators, Education and Educators, Migration North, Military & Veterans, Politicians, Politics, Appointments & Elections
Geographic Region: Glasgow, Barren County, Kentucky / Gary, Indiana / Chicago, Illinois
Powell, William Jennifer, Sr.
Birth Year : 1899
Death Year : 1942
William J. Powell, Sr. was born William Jennifer in Henderson, KY; he had a sister named Edna Jennifer. Their father died, and their mother moved to Chicago and married Mr. Powell, who adopted the children. After high school, William Powell enrolled at the University of Illinois at Champaign [now University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign] but left in 1917 to join the U.S. Army. At the end of World War I, he returned to college and earned his electrical engineering degree. In 1928 he left Chicago to enroll in the Warren School of Aeronautics in Los Angeles. Powell learned to fly, and his lifetime goal was to encourage African Americans to become pilots. He saw the field as a way for African Americans to get ahead economically by becoming part of the air age and to help break down the racial barriers in public transportation. Powell was the successful owner of Craftsmen of Black Wings, Inc., an aviation company that offered flying lessons. He also made the documentary film, Unemployment, the Negro, and Aviation (1935); published the trade journal Craftsmen Aero-News (1937-1938); and organized all-black air shows with pilots such as Betsy Coleman and Hubert Fauntleroy Julian. Powell wrote an autobiography, Black Wings (1934). He was the husband of Lucylle Powell and the father of William Jr. and Bernadyne Powell. William Powell, Sr. was a member of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity. For more see Black Aviator: the story of William J. Powell, a new edition of William J. Powell's 1934 Black Wings; and see William Jennifer Powell in Encyclopedia of African American Business History, by J. E. K. Walker.
See photo image and additional information about William J. Powell, Sr. at the Find A Grave website.
Subjects: Authors, Aviators, Businesses, Engineers, Journalists, Newspapers, Magazines, Book Publishers, Music Publishers, Migration North, Migration West, Military & Veterans, Movies and Films
Geographic Region: Henderson, Henderson County, Kentucky / Chicago, Illinois / Los Angeles, California
Sloan, John Steward
Birth Year : 1918
Death Year : 2001
John Steward Sloan was a decorated Tuskegee Airman, a private pilot, an author, a journalist, and the first African American personnel counselor at Inland Steel Company in Chicago. Sloan was born in Louisville, KY, the son of Abram and Patsie Sloan. He was a history and sociology graduate of Kentucky State University. He was a journalist with the Kentucky Reporter newspaper. During WWII, Sloan was a pilot with the 32nd Fighter Group of the 99th Fighter Squadron, the first Black fighter squadron in the U.S. His plane was shot down over Monte Cassino, Italy in 1944; Sloan suffered a fractured thigh when he was hit by shrapnel. He managed to bail out of the plane and survived. Sloan received a Purple Heart and an Honorable Discharge. He returned to Kentucky for a brief period before he and his wife, Wilhelmina Carson Sloan, moved to Chicago, IL, where John Sloan was employed at the Inland Steel Company. Prior to his retirement from the company in 1978, Sloan had advanced to become a corporate finance manager. He was also a private pilot and had worked as a radio DJ. Sloan was a member of the Chicago Urban League. He is the author of two books: The Game Plan for Handicapping Harness Races (1975) and Survival! a Purple Heart Tuskegee Airman (2000). John Steward Sloan died December 28, 2001 and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery. For more see John Steward Sloan in "Interesting People," Chicago Metro News, 08/04/1979, p.9; E. Smith, "Lt. John S. Sloan shot down over Italy," St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 09/26/2009; and R. E. Igoe, "John Sloan, Sr., Inland Exec, Tuskegee Airman," Chicago Tribune, 01/05/2001, Obituaries section, p.8.
Subjects: Authors, Aviators, Journalists, Newspapers, Magazines, Book Publishers, Music Publishers, Migration North, Military & Veterans, Radio
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky / Chicago, Illinois
Stewart, Harry T., Jr.
Birth Year : 1924
Harry T. Stewart, Jr. was born in Newport News, Virginia. In 1948, Stewart, a decorated member of the Tuskegee Airmen, was sighted falling from the eastern Kentucky sky by 9-year-old Callie Daniels, who mistook his parachute for a white eagle. Stewart's P-47 fighter plane crashed into a hilltop in Butcher Hollow, and Stewart landed beneath a rock cliff. His leg was broken in two places. Young Callie's father, Lafe, found Stewart and took him to the house where his wife, Mary Daniels, cleaned and bandaged Stewart's leg. Stewart was given moonshine, which he mistook for water, to help ease the pain; afterward he was able to be taken to the Paintsville Clinic, where members of the U. S. Air Force would later arrive to transport him to Ohio. Over the years, the story was told that the Air Force shot down a B-52 bomber that had been stolen by a black man. Stewart was actually on a simulated armed reconnaissance from Columbus, OH, to Greenville, SC, when his plane had engine failure and he had to bail out. For more see L. Mueller, "WWII Pilot to Revisit Site of Kentucky Crash - Over Van Lear, Tuskegee Pilot Bailed Out in '48," Lexington Herald-Leader, 07/06/05.
See photo image of Lt. Colonel Harry T. Stewart, Jr. at The Gatherings of Mustangs and Legends website.
Subjects: Aviators, Military & Veterans
Geographic Region: Newport News, Virginia / Butcher Hollow and Paintsville, Johnson County, Kentucky / Columbus, Ohio / Greenville, South Carolina
Tuskegee Airmen (Kentucky)
Start Year : 1942
End Year : 1946
At least 11 of the Tuskegee cadets were from Kentucky, including Colonel Noel Parrish from Versailles, KY. In August 2007, the section of highway I-75 in Fayette County was designated the "Tuskegee Airmen Memorial Trail"; the trail was extended to the entire length of I-75 in KY in July 2010. The state of Kentucky was first to name a portion of a highway system in honor of the Tuskegee pilots (officially the United States Army Air Corps' 332nd Fighter Group). On March 29, 2007, the Tuskegee Airmen were honored with a gold medal; five of the Airmen from Kentucky were in attendance at the ceremony in the Capitol Rotunda in Washing, D.C. A rendering of the bust of Kentucky native Willa Brown [Chappell] was unveiled at the Kentucky Capitol Rotunda in February 2007; the bust is being completed by Bobby Scroggins. Willa Brown had trained many of the men who became Tuskegee pilots. For more see the Kentucky Governor's press release, "Governor Fletcher, Kentucky Transportation Cabinet honor first African-American military pilots," 08/10/2007; Kentucky Educational Television (KET) Connections with Renee Shaw, #302 Tuskegee Airmen [online video]; "Sculpture honors Tuskegee Airmen trainer," Lexington Herald-Leader, 02/23/2007, City&Region section, p. C1; HR144; and Ron Spriggs Exhibit of Tuskegee Airmen at 100 Mason Springs Drive in Nicholasville, KY.
Subjects: Aviators, Military & Veterans
Geographic Region: Kentucky
Tuskegee Airmen Memorial Trail
Start Year : 2007
On Friday, July 16, 2010, the length of Interstate 75 in Kentucky (a 191 mile roadway) was dedicated to honor the Tuskegee Airmen (officially the United States Army Air Corps' 332nd Fighter Group). This designation extends the original 23 mile stretch that was designated in their honor in 2007 in Fayette Co. Kentucky was the first state to so honor the African American World War II pilots, 11 of whom were from Kentucky. For more information, see Kentucky House Joint Resolution 15 and "I-75 in Ky. becomes Tuskegee Airmen Trail," Lexington Herald-Leader, July 17, 2010, pp. A3 & A5.
Subjects: Aviators, Military & Veterans
Geographic Region: Fayette County, KY; I-75, Kentucky
Young, Eddie L.
Birth Year : 1923
Born in the coal camps of Jenkins, KY, Young is the father of Michelle Y. Green, author of the Willie Pearl Series. Eddie Young was a Tuskeegee Airman and one of the first African American pilots to fly in Korea and Vietnam. Green's book in progress, High Flight, is based on her father's life. This entry was submitted by Michelle Y. Green.
Subjects: Aviators, Fathers, Military & Veterans
Geographic Region: Jenkins, Letcher County, Kentucky