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"I just couldn't accept…the segregation that they had down here." (Audio interview, 14:20)

   Pompey L. Hawkins
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War: World War, 1939-1945
Branch: Army Air Forces/Corps
Unit: 99th Fighter Squadron, Tuskegee Army Air Forces
Service Location: Chanute Field, Illinois; Keesler Field, Mississippi; Tuskegee Army Air Field, Alabama; Miami Beach, Florida; Jefferson Barracks, Missouri
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Army Air Corps Lieutenant Pompey Hawkins was among the first African Americans to attend Officer Candidate School. While stationed at Keesler Field in Biloxi, Mississippi, in 1943, Lieutenant Hawkins protested the segregation of post amenities for the men under his command starting in 1943. Predating the nonviolent protests of the Civil Rights movement, Lieutenant Hawkins and his men lined up to make purchases at the Post Exchange, sat in at the post restaurant, and stood in line for tickets at the post movie theater. Protests against injustice were not always nonviolent; he was tried, and acquitted, in a court martial for fighting back when assaulted by the base commanding officer.

Interview (Audio)
»Interview Highlights  (4 clips)
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Download: audio(3) (226 min.)
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 Audio (Interview Excerpts) (4 items)
Selection for the Army Air Force; taking a competitive exam to gain entrance. (01:33) Commanding a group of young African American draftees; instructing them not to weather abuse by white NCOs; leading sit-ins at the post exchange and restaurant. (03:28) Leading his men on parade; called in by Inspector General; getting into a fight; court-martialed for incident. (06:33)
Feeling that the ground personnel in his unit are not remembered in public memory; emphasis is on pilots; no regard for support staff. (05:29)  

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  October 26, 2011
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