New exhibit to salute contributions of African Americans to the U.S. Armed Forces

November 8, 2017

A new exhibit, set to open Thursday at Troy University’s Rosa Parks Museum, will commemorate the valiant service of African American men and women during World War II.

“EO 9981: Escaping Jim Crow,” which refers to President Harry S. Truman’s executive order that ended segregation in the U.S. Armed Forces, celebrates the contributions of African Americans such as the Tuskegee Airmen and others who served in segregated units during World War II, and tells the story of the integration of the Air Force in 1950, including Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery. The integration of these units allowed African American service members and civilians working on base to escape the Jim Crow laws.

The exhibition is a collaborative effort of the Rosa Parks Museum, the National Museum of the US Air Force, Air University History Office and Air Force Historical Research Agency at Maxwell AFB, and Enlisted Heritage Hall at Gunter Annex.

The museum’s namesake, Rosa Parks, once commented about the integration of Maxwell Air Force Base.

“You might just say Maxwell opened my eyes up,” Mrs. Parks said. “It was an alternative reality to the ugly policies of Jim Crow.”

A free reception for the opening of the exhibit will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday in the museum’s exhibit hall and the public is invited to attend. The exhibition will run through Jan. 2, and is available for free viewing, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

“This exhibition commemorates the African American men and women who served valiantly during World War II,” said Dr. Felicia Bell, director of the museum. “They risked their lives for their country while overcoming the obstacles of segregation and discrimination within the U.S. Armed Forces. Rosa Parks and her husband, Raymond, are a part of this story. We’re excited to share it with our visitors.”

In addition to the exhibit opening, the Rosa Parks Museum will offer free admission to the museum for all military personnel, active duty and retired, with valid identification on Friday. Family members of military personnel will receive a $1 discount on each paid admission. The museum is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday.