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TUSKEGEE AIRMEN, INC [[image - logo]] 15th Annual Convention is Scheduled for Orlando, Florida---August 5-10, 1986 A National salute to Black newspapers and the NAACP for their positive roles in the pre-World War II protests that led to the 1941 breakthrough for pilot training at Tuskegee, Alabama, has been scheduled by Tuskegee Airmen, Inc., a national organization with 30 member chapters. The tribute, a feature of the 15th Annual National Convention (Orlando, Florida---August, 1986) will mark the 45th Anniversary of the 1941 reversal in U.S. War Department policy opening pilot training to Blacks for the first time. As announced by John D. Silvera, Chairman of the Convention Board of Directors, a resolution urging the action sponsored by the General Daniel "Chappie" James Jr. Chapter (State of Florida) was endorsed by the national body at its recent August 5-10, 1985, Dayton, Ohio, Convention. The proposed salute, Silvera said, is "long overdue recognition to Black newspapers, to NAACP and others for the persistent protests and petitions that opened the doors of military aviation to Blacks for the first time." Tuskegee was more than a breakthrough, it was a catalyst that eventually led to the switch of the Armed Forces of these United States from the nation's most segregated institution to its present exemplary position, as America's most integrated institution, barring none." Planning for the 15th Annual Convention already under way includes the following persons: Honorary Chairmen: Percy Sutton, Chairman Inner City Broadcasting Corporation Stanley S. Scott, Vice-President Phillip Morris Corporation Chairman, Corporate Advisory Committee: Lee Archer, Vice-President General Foods Corporation The five day event scheduled for Orlando Florida (August 5-10,1986), will include top-drawer representatives of Black newspapers, the National NAACP and Urban League. OFFICERS [2 column table] President|Jean R. Esquerre First Vice President|George L. Bing Second Vice President|Harold O'Neal Recording Secretary|Charles E. Washington Corresponding Secretary|Ann Bing Financial Secretary|Harry W. Banks Treasurer|John W. Freeman Assistant Treasurer|Jason C. Arrington Historian|Marion Lee Connell Parliamentarian|Charles B. Smith Public Relations|George H. Warren [/2 column table] [[images]] COL. JOHN D. SILVERA Gaining Rank Was Not Easy When The Ranks Were All White by Lyn Dowling John Silvera is a resourceful man. He decided early in life that he wanted to make a career of the military--not an easy decision, since that was far from the best place in which a young black man might prosper. But Silvera's persistence was and is one of his outstanding virtues. He enlisted as a private in the State Militia of New Jersey, the state's then-version of an all-black National Guard. After four years he became Sergant [Sergeant] Major Silvera, decided to enlist in New York's National Guard, which allowed black recruits. So, just before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, having been turned down by the Navy and the Marine Corps, he became a private once more. By 1942, the New York National Guard, now at war and a part of the United States Army, recognized something it liked in John Silvera; he was sent to Utah for basic training and became the first-ever black cadet sergeant major in that training camp. Next stop was Miami Beach, for Officers' Training School and once again Cadet Silvera excelled. He was the highest-rated graduate in his class and would have received honors as such except for one small problem: black soldiers were not even permitted to march on the outside of the ranks, much less accept honors. But Lt. Silvera persisted and was sent, along with so many of his racial compatriots, 156
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