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East Point Memorial Day parade to honor Tuskegee Airmen
by Noreen Cochran
May 22, 2013 10:59 AM | 3526 views | 0 0 comments | 20 20 recommendations | email to a friend | print
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The airmen of the all-black 99th Fighter Squadron will be honored on a street named after them Monday at 10 a.m. when former boxing promoter Waymon Harley presents the inaugural Tuskegee Airmen Memorial Day Celebration.

“They were American heroes among all the other American troops,” Harley said about the World War II flight crews.

He said veteran airmen expected to attend the event, which will commemorate all fallen troops, include Atlanta radio personality James “Alley Pat” Patrick.

Harley, a College Park resident since 2006, said the inspiration for the event came to him while driving down Camp Creek Parkway.

“I saw the sign for Tuskegee Airmen Parkway,” he said about a 2008 designation given to the road to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

Harley, whose family has deep roots in the military, said it surprised him.

“I’ve been living here since 2006. I just discovered it this year,” he said. “How many other people are not aware of it, and they drive up and down it every day?”

The thought stayed with him while his organization, South Fulton Community Organizers, worked on the successful 2012 election campaign of Fulton County Superior Court Clerk Cathelene “Tina” Robinson.

“It was her idea for doing something big at the Camp Creek Marketplace,” Harley said about the shopping center where the parade will start. “I came up with the idea. She gave me input and knowledge.”

The event includes District 35 State Sen. Donzella James, D-Atlanta, as parade grand marshal, keynote speaker Fulton County Commissioner William “Bill” Edwards and a guest vocalist.

“The person singing the national anthem is Eldrin Bell,” Harley said about the former Clayton County chairman. “He’s very good. Most people who have heard him sing love it.”

Other dignitaries making appearances include East Point Mayor Earnestine Pittman, who said the parade, ceremony, movie matinee, waterskiing exhibition and fireworks will replace her city’s usual observance.

“We’re not going to try to compete with that,” she said.

Pittman said East Point will lend its support.

“We know we’re going to have to have a presence over there,” she said about the Princeton Lakes shopping center, site of the Movies ATL theater.

Harley said East Point Councilwoman Jacqueline Slaughter-Gibbons and the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau were instrumental in getting businesses like the cinema on board.

The event includes a screening of Tyler Perry’s new movie “Peeples,” with a portion of the $7.50 admission price benefiting the airmen’s nonprofit youth foundation.

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