Radio personality Tom Joyner and singer Lionel Richie visited campus to honor their alma mater and the airmen on Jan. 16. Joyner flew over the University Chapel in his personal plane painted to pay tribute to the Tuskegee Airmen before the university’s annual service held to remember the life of Martin Luther King Jr.
Hundreds filled the chapel to get a glimpse of Joyner, Richie and all of the visiting cast members during the service. Joyner entered the sanctuary carrying a large poster of his late father, Hercules, who trained to be an airman, but did not complete the program.
“My father and mother came to Tuskegee to become a part of history,” Joyner later told the crowd.
After special performances from the university’s choir and liturgical dance team, Edward Wheeler, president emeritus of the Christian Theological Seminary and former dean of the University Chapel, gave a stirring address on King’s life and the problems blacks still face.
“We have come a long way from colored water fountains, but we still have a long way before we realize the vision of harmony and peace,” he said.
Wheeler also drew many parallels with the bravery and vision of the Tuskegee Airmen and King. He urged the audience to be good stewards of their legacies.
“Neither one of us can give up the dream,” Wheeler urged. “Our job is to remain steadfast and immovable in the work of the lord.”
Joyner told the audience that growing up in Tuskegee and in the wake of the airmen’s legacy greatly influenced his and Richie’s childhoods.
“We had great role models and a can-do attitude seemed to be everywhere,” Joyner said.
Richie said the story of the airmen getting such attention has been a long time coming.
“I can’t imagine waiting this long to be recognized,” he said.
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