An Evening To Remember At York College
A cross-section of business, community, elected officials as well as university leaders, faculty, staff and students, gathered to salute the legendary Tuskegee Airmen (TA), who so courageously fought for America during the dark days of World War II.
The event also honored Congressman Gregory Meeks, of the Sixth Congressional District, and Christopher O. Ward, executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Both Meeks and Ward have been supporters of The City University of New York (CUNY) Aviation Institute (AI) at York College, and the Airmen, frequent visitors to the campus, inspire students of the AI as well.
CNN News Anchor and Special Correspondent Soledad O’Brien, host of that network’s Black in America series, emceed the event and fielded questions from a pre-concert audience for the Airmen, during the “Conversation with the Tuskegee Airmen,” segment in the Little Theatre of the PAC.
The concert, which featured Tony Award-winning performer, Brian Stokes Mitchell, the son of Tuskegee Airman George Mitchell, brought the audience to its feet numerous times as he segued from one standard to another; many from the 1940s when the Airmen were at the height of their military careers. As impressive for his skill as a raconteur as for his extraordinary singing voice, Mitchell’s performance was akin to a one-man show on Broadway not only for the performance itself, but for the production value provided by the College.
And while O’Brien, Mitchell and the 20 or so Airmen in attendance, were the highlight of the evening, the other star attraction was the first phase and temporary installation of the Tuskegee Airmen Gallery at York College in the foyer of the PAC.
Featuring a life-sized statue of a Tuskegee Airman in full combat gear, a replica of the Congressional Gold Medal awarded to the Airmen in 2006 in a display case with other era medals and 25 paintings on loan from the US Air Force Museum, the exhibit is breath-taking in scope. There’s even a replica of TA Roscoe Brown’s P-51 Mustang with its distinctive “Red Tail” soaring overhead.
The temporary exhibit will remain in the PAC lobby, free and open to the public, through May, 2009.