TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Metropolitan Ministries is bringing Black History to life and using it as a way to teach and inspire the families they serve.
Throughout February, the non-profit has held several events about different times in history where African-American men and women overcame adversity. Monday, the organization is hosting a discussion and movie presentation about the Tuskegee Airmen.
The Tuskegee Airmen were the first black, trained military pilots in the U.S. Air Force who fought in World War II. It was these men who inspired 21 year veteran pilot, Reginald davis, to pursue flying.
“Growing up in inner city Detroit, it wasn’t the best situation to be growing up in and quite honestly I wanted to find a way to get out of there,” Davis said. “Fortunately, I lived near the Detroit City Airport. I used to see the airplanes flying overhead and I kept looking up and thinking maybe that’s a way out for me. However, I didn’t know of any black pilots growing up.”
That was until he learned about the Tuskegee Airmen.
“If they could become pilots during the overt discrimination of the 1940s at the time, then maybe just possibly I might have a chance to get out of inner city Detroit and do the same thing,” Davis said.
So that’s exactly what he did. Davis served in the Navy and earned his degree at Tuskegee University. For 21 years, he flew planes for America Airlines and recently retired in June of 2018.
He now spends a lot of his time teaching and sharing his story as well as the Tuskegee Airmen story. For the past five years, he’s led the discussion at Metropolitan Ministries about the Tuskegee Airmen during Black History Month.
“With our young people they sometimes feel like they can’t do certain things so we let them know you can do this,” Cynthia Seay, Manager of Children and Youth Services at Metropolitan Ministries, said. “Also, to teach them, a lot of people paved the way for you.”
Seay works directly with the teenagers at Metropolitan Ministries. She says over the years, Davis’ presentation has positively influenced several children.
“There was one teen that came in one day with his ROTC uniform and he was so excited,” Seay said. “He was like, you know, I want to fly. He was like if he can do it, I can do it.”
It’s those reasons Davis continues to share his story.
“My message to young people is pursue that is your passion,” Davis said. ” Pursue that which inspires you and if you have that passion, when the rough patches come, when the challenges come up, you’ll have drive enough to continue to work through those.”
Davis will lead the discussion Monday at 6:30 p.m. He will then play the movie Red Tails for the families on Tuesday. The event is closed and only open to families at Metropolitan Ministries.
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