Tuskegee Airman Tells His Story at Tenneco Lecture Series

Courage and bravery are words easily attached to many actions and people.  Similarly, the word "hero" has been diluted to identify activities that arguably are less than heroic.  But one group of men during World War II defined those words for a generation.   

The University of Houston's African American Studies program and the Center for Public History (CPH) welcome Lt. Calvin J. Spann, one of the Tuskegee Airmen, to the Tenneco Lecture Series.   

The event takes place at 11 a.m., Thursday, Feb. 18 in the M.D. Anderson Library, Rockwell Pavilion.  It is free and open to the public.

"We have an opportunity to hear living history about true heroics and bravery during a time when it would have been easier for these men to turn their backs," said Kathleen Brosnan, associate professor of history and associate director of the CPH.  "We are honored to host Lt. Spann."

The Tuskegee Airmen were the first African-American military airmen in the U.S.  From 1940-1946, 1,000 men trained in Tuskegee, Ala. to become pilots, bombardiers or navigators for World War II.  The Tuskegee Airman distinguished themselves for bravery and dedication, and for not losing a single bomber to enemy fire in more than 200 combat missions.  No other fighter group had the same distinction.

Spann joined the Air Force in 1943, a month before his high school graduation.  Initially, he was assigned to Kessler Field, Miss., but was told they did not train black cadets.  He was transferred to Tuskegee for cadet training, and then to Walterboro, S.C. to train to fly the P-47 Thunderbolt for combat and overseas duty.  Spann became a member of the 100th Fighter Squadron, a part of the 332nd Fighter Group, and flew 26 combat missions before the end of the war in Europe.

In 2006, all of the Tuskegee Airmen received the Congressional Gold Medal of Honor.    

Inaugurated in 1986, the Tenneco Lecture Series provides an opportunity for Houston professionals, community leaders and others to consider historical and social perspectives directly related to the decisions they make. Administered by the department of history's Center for Public History, the series is made possible by grants from Tenneco Inc. and the National Endowment for the Humanities. 

For more information on the UH African American Studies program, visit http://www.class.uh.edu/aas/ 

For more information on the UH Center for Public History, visit http://www.class.uh.edu/hist/public_history/center_for_public_history.html  

WHAT: Tenneco Lecture Series, featuring Tuskegee Airman Calvin Spann

WHEN:  11 a.m., Thursday, Feb. 18

WHERE: Rockwell Pavilion at the UH M.D. Anderson Library, 2nd floor

For directions and parking information, visit http://www.uh.edu/campus_map/buildings/L.php