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Davis, Benjamin Oliver Jr., 1912-2002


Benjamin Davis Jr. began his college education at Western Reserve University. He transferred to the University of Chicago to establish Illinois residency and secure a recommendation to West Point from the only black congressman at the time. Davis was the first African American to attend West Point in the twentieth century and graduated in 1936. He was also among the first class of blacks admitted to air corps pilot training in 1941. Davis became the first black general in the air force and was highly decorated for his service as a commander and combat pilot during World War II. He subsequently served as Assistant Secretary at the Department of Transportation and played a key role in drafting desegregation plans for President Truman’s Executive Order 9981, which ended racial discrimination in the air force.

In Black and White . Ed. Mary Mace Spradling. Vol.1. 3 rd ed. Gale Research: Detroit, 1980. p.238.

Nicholson, Delores . Notable Black American Men. Ed. Jessie Carney Smith. Farmington Hills , MI : Gale, 1999.

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