Recently honored at President Obama’s inauguration, 88-year-old Dr. Eugene Richardson is one of the Tuskegee Airmen who fought a war on two fronts: victory in the air during WWII and victory over racism at home.
Richardson revealed little-known stories about the men and women of Tuskegee, Ala. keeping history alive through PNC’s 8th Annual Black History Month Celebration. The airman was joined by two Tuskegee Airwomen from Philadelphia — Alma Daily, who was a nurse at Tuskegee, and second-generation Tuskegee Joan Broadfield, who is helping to keep this important Civil Rights story alive.
“The Tuskegee Airmen are the national heroes in the Civil Rights movement and international heroes of World War II ," said J. William Mills III, PNC's regional president for Philadelphia and South Jersey. “What's so extraordinary, is how these early Civil Rights soldiers put their lives on the line and offended a nation that didn't consider them as equals. They fought racism and bigotry at home just does valiantly as they fought Hitler's war machine.…Dr. Richardson went to Tuskegee and completed his training in April 1945, just a month before World War II ended. Like all African American pilots, he had no postwar outlet to become a commercial pilot — his dream. But his experience at Tuskegee opened other doors. Many of the Tuskegee pilots had been college boys. Inspired by them, Dr. Richardson went on the G. I. Bill, earned his masters and PhD and became a teacher and principal in the Philadelphia school system.”
On Wednesday, the spry airman regaled nearly 300 PNC employees in the morning with first-hand, historical stories, followed by an elegant business luncheon with nearly 100 community leaders. Richardson is one of the few remaining local members of the Greater Philadelphia Chapter of Tuskegee Airmen, and continues to advise others on overcoming obstacles and the importance of education.