President Obama & Author Toni Morrison On Tuesday, President Barack Obama awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom--the Nation's highest civilian honor--to 13 individuals who have made meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.
On April 14, 1943 Joseph Jenkins (1914-1959) became the first African American commissioned officer in the US Coast Guard. Holding an engineering degree from the University of Michigan and an MBA from Wayne State, he had previously organized the 1279th Combat Engineering Battalion of the Michigan National Guard. In addition to military service he worked for the Michigan State Highway Department where he was Asst Director of the Detroit Metro office at the time of his death…
1899 - Buck Franklin, son of a Chickasaw freedman (shown with his older brother, Matthew) was named after his grandfather, who had been a slave of a Chickasaw family in Oklahoma. Buck Franklin became a lawyer, and defended survivors of the Tulsa Riots in 1921 which had resulted in the murder of 300 African Americans.
Bessie Coleman, the daughter of a poor, southern, African American family, became one of the most famous women and African Americans in aviation history. "Brave Bessie" or "Queen Bess," as she became known, faced the double difficulties of racial and gender discrimination in early 20th-century America but overcame such challenges to become the first African American woman to earn a pilot's license. Coleman became a role model for women and African Americans.