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Tuskegee Airmen to attend King Unity Breakfast

By Ronnie Thomas
rthomas@decaturdaily.com · 340-2438

At least two members of the Tuskegee Airmen will attend the 13th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Unity Breakfast on Monday.

The event, sponsored by the Decatur/Morgan County Minority Development Association, honors the life and legacy of the civil rights leader. It begins at 6:45 a.m. at the Holiday Inn.

Executive Director Murphy Brown said Lt. Col. Charles Dryden and Lt. Col. Val Archer of the Atlanta Chapter of the Tuskegee Airmen Inc. will attend.

“We are honored that they have accepted our invitation,” Brown said. “There’s a possibility that two more Tuskegee Airmen will be here.” In 1941, the War Department established Tuskegee Institute as the training site for black pilots in the Army Air Corps.

By the end of World War II, almost 1,000 blacks had won their wings at Tuskegee Army Air Field.

The airmen flew more than 15,000 combat sorties and destroyed 111 German airplanes in the air and 150 on the ground. Sixty-six Tuskegee pilots died in action or accidents, and the enemy downed and captured 32.

Brown said the breakfast’s proceeds go toward funding college academic scholarships in furtherance of King’s dream of equality.

“We believe that young people with aspirations of going to college should have that opportunity,” he said.

Who’s eligible

Graduating seniors who reside in Morgan County, have a grade point average of at least 2.5 and whose family incomes are strained are eligible for scholarships.

“We want to try to keep kids going, keep them in school to finish high school and get them into college,” Brown said. “If they are economically disadvantaged and if their stories of need make sense, we want to help them.”

Brown said that through the support of businesses and individuals in Decatur and Morgan County, the association has awarded more than 150 scholarships. He said its goal this year is to provide scholarships for 15 to 25 more students.

“Contributions are tax-deductible through our 501(c)3 organization,” he said. “A gift of $200 will make a difference, and some may wish to sponsor a full $1,500 scholarship.”

Brown encourages people to attend the breakfast and see some of the students that their contributions assist.

Interested students can apply for a scholarship via the association’s Web site, www.dmcmda .org.

MLK events in Athens

ATHENS — Athens is offering a multitude of ways to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

At 9 a.m. Monday, the city of Athens, Limestone County and local NAACP will host a parade that starts at the courthouse and goes to the Alabama Veterans Museum on Pryor Street.

At the museum, students who wrote winning essays will read those to the public. The students were to write a letter to King about today’s issues they think would interest him.

The Lincoln-Bridgeforth Park Committee also will host its annual ceremony at Sweet Home Missionary Baptist Church on Westmoreland Avenue at 11 a.m.

There will be singing, a guest speaker and the naming of the committee’s citizen of the year.

HOLLY HOLLMAN

Miss Freedom pageant

The deadline to register for the Martin Luther King Jr. Miss Freedom Pageant is Wednesday.

The application fee is $20 for students in grades 7-12. The pageant is 6 p.m. Saturday at Progressive Christian Outreach Ministry’s Life Center. The contest features a first-place crown, up to $100 cash award and other prizes.

Contact Doris Baker at 355-9169 to register or for more information.

BAYNE HUGHES

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