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African-American Museum Black History Month events blaze trails and ‘red tails’

Thanks to CAC “Cultural Pathways” grant, February is kicking off with the famous Tuskegee Airmen

(Fresno, Calif.) – From the African-American pilot to the navigators, bombardiers, mechanics, instructors, crew chiefs, nurses, and cooks—these were the Tuskegee Airmen of World War II.

Then there were the pilots, who were the first to risk their lives, the first to go into air-combat missions for the US Army Air Forces – The Red Tails.

Racially segregated and not recognized as full citizens in the United States, all of these African-American men of the military risked their lives for American Citizens … and now their story will be told at the African-American Historical & Cultural Museum of the San Joaquin Valley (AAHCMSJV) starting February 2nd until March 4th.

Thanks to The California Arts Council grant, Cultural Pathways, where the AAHCMSJV was awarded $10,000 out of 28 other grantees statewide ($5,000 per year for two years to bring in artists’ exhibits,) the first exhibit procured through the funding is The Red Tail Exhibit: “The Mobile Showcase Exhibit”.

Created by artist Leroy “Buddy” Gibson with the intent to provide mentorship for youth and knowledge of the Tuskegee Airmen’s contributions as African Americans in World War II, the exhibit is based upon the heroics of the 99th Fighter Squadron and 332nd Fighter Group, and their support staff, commonly known as the Tuskegee Airmen.

The official reception featuring the artist commentary, and historical background will be Saturday, February 11th from 12:00 pm – 2:00 pm at the AAHCMSJV located at 1857 Fulton St., Fresno, CA 93721.

Groups are welcome to book guided tours by calling the museum office Tuesday thru Friday from 10:00 AM – 2:00 PM, 559-544-1857 or request via email:

This Saturday, Feb. 4th, the (AAHCM) will host its annual Black History Month Celebration Banquet to honor the unsung voices of African-Americans from throughout the Valley at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Fresno Convention Center located at 2233 Ventura St, Fresno, CA 93721.

The celebration will begin at 6:00 PM with a no-host reception followed by dinner and program at 6:30 PM, dancing to follow thereafter.

The Black History Month Banquet commemorates local and national black history and celebrates black culture and contributions from throughout the Valley. AAHCM always begins the celebration by honoring icons from the Valley who have strived to make a difference in their communities while surpassing roadblocks, challenges or other personal hurdles that usually interfere with one’s greater achievements.

In honoring their legacy, the term “Trailblazer” designates the accomplishments of a community leader who has helped any members of the community through service and/or leadership against all odds.

This year’s 2017 Trailblazers are Dezie Woods-Jones, Phd, Pastor Donahue Green, Gloria Smith, Fannie Hayes, Dr. Jerome Jackson, Michael McGough, Sam Lane, Dorothy “Dottie” Smith, Earl Myers, Rev. Dr. Henry I. Oputa, Rev. Paul McCoy and posthumously Rev. Julius Blaine Brooks.

Trailblazer awards will be followed by two distinguished accolades; the Passing the Torch Award and the Shining Star Award. This year’s recipient of the Passing the Torch Award is Ozeme Bonette Cooley; the award was established to honor younger Trailblazers who lead their community and are on the path to becoming legendary trailblazers.

This year’s 2017 Shining Star Award, given to Central Valley-grown recipients recognized for their upstanding talents in entertainment and the performing arts, honors Salisha Thomas.

Tickets are $100 each and tables seat up to 10 people. There will also be a silent auction featuring a variety of items, including African-American paintings, handcrafted pottery and an array of gift baskets.

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