This being Black History month, I wanted to write about one of the the people that had an impact in my daughter's life, Mr. Chauncey Spencer. My oldest daughter is adopted, bi-racial and at 13 was going through a tough time at school. My dad could sense that she could use some building up and set up an appointment to meet with his friend Chauncey. We were privileged to meet him in 2000, two years before his death.
My dad was in the Air Force during the Korean Conflict and had a lifelong love of flying and aircraft. When he retired to Virginia in 1992 he struck up friendships with various people with similar interests. One of his most most fascinating friends was Chauncey Spencer. My dad knew he was living history. Mr. Spencer was the son of Harlem Renaissance poet Anne Spencer. He is perhaps best known as a Tuskegee Airman.
Chauncey fell in love with flying at a young age. When no aviation school in our state would accept him because of his race, he moved to Chicago in 1934 to take flying lessons. In 1939 he and other black aviators organized the National Airmen Association of America. In May of 1939 he and another pilot, Dale Lawrence White, rented a bi-plane and flew on a ten day tour from Chigago to Washington DC to lobby Congress to allow blacks into the Civilian Pilot Training Program for the Army Air Corps.
They received national attention proving black pilots could fly and met with Harry S. Truman and other members of Congress. In the army, Chauncey worked for fair treatment of black air cadets at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama and other air bases during World War II. He encountered prejudice and segregation and proved that black airmen had just as much skill and intelligence to fly planes (and risk their lives) for our country as white men. In November 1998, President Clinton approved Public Law 105-355, establishing the Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site in Tuskegee, Alabama.
Chauncey Spencer Tuskegee Airmen
I'm forever grateful that this man took an afternoon of his time to retell his story, visit with us and instill a sense of pride in my daughter. She is one tough cookie who's handled what life has thrown at her with grace and dignity...thanks to the men and women like Chauncey who have paved the way for her.
Debbie Malone, Realtor RE/MAX 1st Olympic 20395 Timberlake Rd Lynchburg, VA 24502