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Sharing the Legacy




Living in our midst, in Hampton Roads, is the proud sister of not one but two Tuskegee Airmen.  Mrs. Olivia Roberts Cauthen’s twin brothers served our country as brave men of the United States Army Corps. One twin, Rev. Cleon B. Roberts was a flight instrument instructor for the airmen of the Tuskegee Army Air Corps. Captain Leon C. Roberts, SE-42G, the other twin, was one of the 33 original members of the famed 99th Pursuit Squadron under the leadership of Colonel Benjamin O. Davis, Jr.


While visiting Tuskegee Institute to examine research on infantile paralysis, her husband’s illness, Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt shocked everyone by flying with a Negro pilot, Charles “Chief” Anderson over the Tuskegee Army Air Field. Her influence helped to launch the fighter pilots that we have come to know as the “Red Tails” which were comprised of the 99th, 100th, 301st, and 302nd Squadrons forming the 332nd Fighter Group. Mrs. Roosevelt informed her husband, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, that the Tuskegee Airmen were indeed capable airmen.

After numerous delays, the 99th Pursuit Squadron left Tuskegee, in April 1943, to join the war in northern Africa.  In World War II, after reaching a quota of 50 missions, airmen could crush their hats and return a hero; however, Roberts who flew 119 successful missions over enemy territory and other 99th Squadron pilots did not adhere to this 50 mission code.  Because his expertise flying interrupted many German flight plans, Captain Leon C. Roberts was nicknamed the “Derailer.”  In addition to the problems he caused the Germans, during his outstanding career, Captain Roberts is credited with destroying a German 109 and Fiseler Storch that was engaged in gunfire with American ground troops.    


On July 21, 1994, a restored P-51D Mustang aircraft, with its “red tail”, named in honor of Captain Leon C. Roberts was dedicated at the USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park in Mobile, Alabama.  Present at this memorable occasion were his mother, Mrs. Nellie Roberts, and a sister Mrs. Imogene Roberts Howard. Rev. Cleon B. Roberts, twin brother of the deceased, prayed and a fellow original 99th Squadron Tuskegee pilot, Colonel Herbert Carter, USAF (retired) Class SE-42F was the keynote speaker.  Also honored at the ceremony was Lt. Charles Hall of Brazil, Indiana who was the first Tuskegee Airman to shoot down a German plane over Italy on June 21, 1943.  During Mobile’s Veteran’s Day parade, on July 22, 1996, the 18 surviving pioneer black pilots of the United States Army Air Corps 99th Fighter Squadron were honored as Mobile’s “Patriots of the Year.”

A picture of Captain Leon C. Roberts and other members of the 99th  Pursuit Squadron is on display at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C.  Thank you, Mrs. Cauthen, for sharing this wonderful history with the Hampton Roads community.

The Office of Veterans Affairs and the Honors College at Norfolk State University, on February 21st , are sponsoring a talk on “Red Tails” by, Grant S. Williams, Sr., USAF (Ret), a Tuskegee airman.  This historical presentation will occur in the New Student Center Ballroom/Norfolk State’s Campus from 12:30-1:30 pm.




Tidewater Community College is celebrating Black History month with many outstanding activities for the community.  For a listing of the events, please go to or call (757) 822-1122.  For your convenience, several of the activities are highlighted in this article.

On Saturday, February 18, 2021, from noon to 3:00 pm, there will be a “CELEBRATION of SISTERHOOD.”   This forum will take place in the Advanced Technology Center, TCC/Virginia Beach Campus located at 1800 College Crescent.  Panel discussions on “The State of the Black Family,” and “How to Keep Our Men Out of Prison” will feature such notables as Rev. Dr. Todd Davidson, Rev. Dr. Kirk T. Houston, and the Honorable Marjorie A T Arrington. Other panelist will include leading experts in law, the criminal justice system, psychologists, former inmates and community leaders. From 3:00 – 6:00 pm there will be musical entertainment; a fashion show; quilting exhibit/lecture (history of quilts during the underground railroad movement); reception and other exciting activities.    

This day of “Celebration of Sisterhood” is sponsored by TCC, LINKS, Inc., Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., and Sister Friends. Donations, in the manner of monetary gifts (checks only), clothing and children’s books, will be greatly appreciated.  All proceeds, from this event, will be given to the SAMARITAN HOUSE.

Visit the Norfolk Campus/Student Center, room 5306, at noon and 4:00 pm, for a conversation on how women view each other.


Edith White, president of the Urban League of Hampton Roads, will discuss leadership and community activism on February 16th  at 10:00 am on the Portsmouth Campus.  On the 16th, at the Pungo Theater/Virginia Beach Campus at 5:30 pm, there will be an exhibition of traditional African dance and step performances by Greek organizations.  

Also on the 16th  a roundtable discussion exploring the stereotypes surrounding African American women in today’s society will be held in the Whitehurst Conference Room/Chesapeake Campus at 1:00 pm and 6:00 pm. February 21st will be the date for “Love and Hip Hop” live entertainment in the Norfolk Campus Student Center/room 5509 at 4:00 pm; and the Legacy Ball, an event discussing bridging the gap between generations, will be held on the Portsmouth Campus at 6:00 pm.

On February 29, at noon, the Portsmouth Campus will be the place for Kemba Smith Pradia’s discussion on not letting your mistakes determine your future. Getting jazzy with the local Jazz group Soulon will be at the Studio Theater/Chesapeake Campus at 7:00 pm on February 29, 2012.  Rev. Dr. Iyanla Vanzant , speaker, author, and television personality, will share some experiences, on February 29th at 7:00 pm, that helped form her life’s vision. 

This forum will take place at Roper Performing Arts Center/Norfolk Campus located on Granby Street. For more information on any and all Black History Month events at Tidewater Community College cal (757) 822-1122.






The Robert L. Vaughan Health and Physical Education Complex, on Saturday, January 28, 2012, was the home to the Winter Homecoming basketball games.  Elizabeth City State University’s campus was filled with all kinds of activities.  The Office of Admissions sponsored an open house for prospective students and their parents.  This included guided tours, information concerning college life and, with the assistance of faculty and staff, school/departmental information about offerings in various majors was discussed.  Alums were busy greeting and meeting old and new friends and attending an alumni meeting.  Student athlete recruits were given an overview of the athletics program and overall campus life by coaches and ECSU student athletes.


A large crowd of students and fans were in attendance for the Homecoming games — Elizabeth City State University/Virginia State University.  During halftime of the men’s game, Chancellor Gilchrist was surprised with a birthday cake, which he shared with fans, from his wife and the Alumni Association.  Coach Robert L. “Bobby” Vaughan was also honored during halftime, with a plaque, from former players. 


Both the women and men were victorious making Winter Homecoming 2012, at ECSU, a true celebration. 



How 5.3 Million Americans Have Lost the Right to Vote

The Chesapeake-Virginia Beach Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Virginia Organizing, The American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia and Missing Voter Project are presenting the movie “Democracy’s Ghost.” Screening of the film and a panel discussion about persons unable to vote, because of past felony convictions, is going to be held at the Naro Theater located at 1507 Colley Avenue in Norfolk.  This important FREE and OPEN to the PUBLIC event will begin at 11:00 am on Saturday, February 11, 2012.


For more information contact Deidre Eason at dceason@gmail.comor call (757) 535-8319.

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