For immediate release: Feb. 23, 2006
For more Information contact: Winnie Comfort
Local Tuskegee Airman to Share His Story during Black History Month
Retired Lieutenant Colonel Edward Harris of the U.S. Air Force will talk about his experience with the 477th Composite Group (Tuskegee Airmen) on Monday, Feb. 27 at 12 p.m. in Conference Room A on the 4th floor of the R.J. Hughes Justice Complex, 25 Market St., Trenton.
"The Tuskegee Airmen, in addition to serving their country with distinction, broke racial barriers and prejudices both in the military and in the minds of the American people. We are delighted that Mr. Harris has agreed to share his story with us," said Judge Philip S. Carchman, administrative director of the courts.
The Tuskegee Airmen were the nation's first black military airmen. Between 1941 and 1946, nearly one thousand black pilots successfully completed their training at Tuskegee Army Air Field in Tuskegee, Alabama. Of these, 450 served overseas during World War II, and 150 died during combat or training. In spite of their significant achievements and dedicated service, these black servicemen experienced continued racism and bigotry. In 1948, President Harry S. Truman signed Executive Order 9981, mandating equal treatment and opportunity in all of the U.S. armed forces. This order was the first step toward desegregation in the military.
Born in Birmingham, Alabama, Mr. Harris was raised in Pittsburgh and received his pilot's license from Tuskegee Institute and Tuskegee Army Air Base in 1944. He served in the U.S. Air Force for 27 years, achieving the rank of lieutenant colonel, and retired as commander of the 2017 Communications Group at McGuire Air Force Base. Mr. Harris is a former president of the Hannibal Cox Chapter of the Tuskegee Airmen.
After retirement from the Air Force, Mr. Harris worked for the N.J. Department of Community Affairs as a supervising program development specialist and received a Departmental and State Outstanding Performance Award for developing public service career programs such as the University Without Walls program at Rutgers University-Livingston, the Public Service Careers Scholarship program for aspiring municipal employees statewide and the Model Cities Training Development program.
Mr. Harris holds a B.A. in Planning and Urban Development from Rutgers University-Livingston College. He resides in Ewing with his wife Delores.