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Tuskegee Airmen, former New Orleans mayor to take part in MLK events

Jeff Unger, News Bureau 217-333-6248

1/10/2006

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. —Members of the World War II fighter pilots who became known as The Tuskegee Airmen, and Marc Morial, a former mayor of New Orleans, are scheduled to be on the University of Illinois campus this month to take part in this year’s commemoration of the life of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Jan. 13-26.

The veterans will answer questions from the audience after the 7 p.m. Jan. 19 free showing of “The Tuskegee Airmen,” a PBS documentary narrated by Ossie Davis, at Foellinger Auditorium, 709 S. Mathews Ave., Urbana.

The pilots fought in Europe and North Africa. Their training was viewed by the military as an experiment to see whether blacks could fly in combat. The airmen took part in more than 15,000 sorties and 1,500 missions.

Morial, who served two terms as the mayor of New Orleans, will speak Jan. 26 (Thursday) at 7 p.m. in Smith Memorial Hall, 805 S. Mathews Ave., Urbana. The topic of his keynote address is “Civic Engagement in the Aftermath of Hurricane Katrina Disaster and Recovery Efforts in New Orleans.” Morial is the president of the National Urban League. A graduate of the Georgetown University Law Center, Morial also served two terms in the Louisiana state senate.

The commemoration kicks off Friday (Jan. 13) with a program (“Beyond the Dream”) from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Holiday Inn, 1001 Killarney, Urbana. A reception will follow the free program sponsored by Champaign and Urbana.

The Rev. Joel L. King Jr., a cousin of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., is to speak at 5 p.m. Jan. 15 (Sunday) in the Great Hall of Krannert Center for the Performing Arts,
500 S. Goodwin Ave., Urbana. The event is free and open to the public.

A complete schedule of events is available online.