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First African-American Air Force General Topic of Great Americans Day Event

First African-American Air Force General Topic of Great Americans Day Event

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     Air Force General Benjamin Oliver Davis Jr. will be the focus of the 12th annual University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown Great Americans Day Citizenship Forum and Luncheon being held Tuesday, April 7, at the Pitt-Johnstown Living/Learning Center’s Heritage Hall.

     Davis was the first African-American to graduate from West Point in the 20th century and served in the infantry and taught military science at the Tuskegee Institute.  Davis was the first officer to earn his wings from the Tuskegee Army Air Field and was later named commander of the first all African-American air unit, the 99th Pursuit Squadron.  Davis served at the Pentagon and overseas from over two decades and retired from active duty in 1970. 

     The lecture is being presented by Dr. Marvin E. Fletcher, professor of history at Ohio University.  Dr. Fletcher has taught a variety of courses in American military history; African-American history, and American-Jewish History.  Dr. Fletcher has also authored several books in African-American military history including The Black Soldier and Officer in the United States Army, 1891-1917; America’s First Black General: Benjamin O. Davis Sr, 1880-1970; and The Peacetime Army, 1900 to 1941. He has also published various articles and reviews in both of his fields.  Dr. Fletcher has researched the history of the Gold Star Mothers pilgrimage, 1929-1933, and has participated in a television documentary on this subject.

     In his lecture, Dr. Fletcher will discuss one of the Tuskegee Airmen of World War II, Benjamin O. Davis Jr.  Mr. Davis’s military career spanned five decades and three wars and was the first African-American general in the US Air Force.

     The Great Americans Day Citizenship Forum is presented by the college’s Office of Community Education and Outreach, History Department, Phi Alpha Theta International History Honor Society, and Sodexo Campus Services.  Funding for the event is provided by the Howard M. and Adelle C. Picking Great Americans Day Citizenship Forum fund.  Additional funding is provided by the Pitt-Johnstown History Club.

     Since 1998, the annual Great Americans Day Citizenship Forum has celebrated the lives of a wide range of citizens, from Presidents and First Ladies to authors and professional athletes.  Pieces of their lives provide models of civic virtue—the sacrifice of self-interest for the public good—that the founders intended to be the glue of our Republic.

     The luncheon is free and open to the general public.  Seating is limited and registrations are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis.  Each registrant will receive a registration confirmation with complete check-in and seating information.

     For registration information, call 814-269-2099.  Additional information is available on-line by clicking on the Great Americans Day link at

     Founded in 1927, Pitt-Johnstown is the first and largest regional campus of the University of Pittsburgh.  A vital knowledge center and a foremost contributor to the area’s educational, social, cultural, and economic environment, Pitt-Johnstown offers a high quality educational experience that is purposefully designed to prepare students for the real world of the 21st century.

Posted by Shook, Kimberly on 2/25/2009 3:30:00 PM