Friday, October 31, 2014

Maycie Herrington, Congressional Gold Medal Recipient

Maycie Herrington spent her adult life collecting, organizing and preserving the history of the Tuskegee Airmen.

Maycie Herrington (1918- )
Maycie Herrington (1918- )
Photo from the 1940s
Clerk Tuskegee
Training Center
Maycie Herrington was the clerk at Tuskegee Airmen Training School from 1941 through 1945, and later became the Tuskegee Airmen's historian, continuing the job until she was 87 years old. 

Maycie Herrington's amazing story will be part of a major exhibition, BREAKING THROUGH Lighting the Way, opening in Fall 2015 in Long Beach, California. 

The exhibition is based on a 2008 book, BREAKING THROUGH  Lighting the Way, about 12 African American women who made a difference in the history of Long Beach, edited by Sunny Nash and Forward by Carolyn Smith watts; and a documentary film, produced by Nash. The book was first released at a reception, program and book signing at the Historical Society of Long Beach, which also is collecting artifacts of the 12 women in the project. 

Sunny Nash and Carolyn Smith Watts are creating a major exhibition of the research and images gathered for BREAKING THROUGH Lighting the Way.

BREAKING THROUGH Lighting the Way  Profiles of African American Women who made a difference to the history of Long Beach, California  Edited by Sunny Nash Foreword by Carolyn Smith Watts  (l-r, rear) Evelyn Knight, Patricia Lofland Bobbie Smith, Alta Cooke, Carrie Bryant Vera Mulkey, Wilma Powell, Doris Topsy-Elvord (seated l-r) Autrilla Scott, Maycie Herrington Dale Clinton & Lillie Mae Wesley (not present)

Profiles of African American
Women who made a difference
to the history of Long Beach, 

Edited by Sunny Nash
Foreword by Carolyn Smith Watts
Bobbie SmithAlta Cooke, Carrie Bryant
Dale Clinton & Lillie Mae Wesley (not present) 

The exhibition will include portraiture and historic photographic restorations by Sunny Nash; documents, artifacts, and a display of Carolyn Smith Watts' images from her historic Shoreline Village photo shoot.

These women were firsts in education, social service, civil rights, public service, shipping industries and community building," said Julie Bartolotto, Executive Director of the Historical Society of Long Beach. "Their book documented the many significant histories that contribute to a more complete narrative of Long Beach's past."

The Tuskegee Airmen were the first African American pilots trained in the United States. This was a group of fearless group of World War II (WWII) air warriors, called the Red Tails, getting this name when the black pilots painted the tails of their aircraft red to distinguish their planes.

"I felt it was my responsibility as much as any one's to keep the records of these men throughout their lives," she said. "I knew them. I knew what they were doing and I knew what they were going through. Someone had to tell their story."

The significance of the story of the first African American aerial combat unit, Red Tails, is so important to American history that George Lucas produced a motion picture starring Terrence Howard and Cuba Gooding, Jr. This action adventure film, nearly a quarter century in the making, tells a true story of heroism. The WWII Training experiment at the Tuskegee Airmen Center, where Herrington worked at the time, trained these black fighter pilots for combat.

Maycie Herrington and George Lucas, in their own way, acted upon a common interest.

Red Tails, Tuskegee Airmen

Red Tails - Big Black Hollywood Movie
George Lucas, Executive Producer & Writer 
Opens Second at Box Office
They story of the Tuskegee Airmen is such a significant ear in American history that filmmaker, George Lucas, pursued the production of the action film for 23-three years. 

On his private mission to produce the film, Red Tails, Lucas had to put $58 million of his own money into the making Red Tails because the movie industry is still reluctant to finance a black Hollywood films about African American participation in the history of the nation.

On a nearly 70-year mission, Maycie Herrington has devoted more than two-thirds of her life to documenting and preserving Tuskegee Airmen history, which is now collected into a permanent archive established in the Special Collections & Archives of the University of California, Riverside (UCR) Libraries, officially classified as: The Maycie Herrington Papers, Collection 251: The Tuskegee Airmen Archive, University of California, Riverside Libraries, Special Collections & Archives.

Herrington's papers, part of the Tuskegee Airmen Archive, contain photographs, prints, posters and unpublished documents associated with the Tuskegee Airmen’s World War II (WWII) military history and also general African American history of the period. The Tuskegee archive contains printed and photographic documents and materials about personnel that served at the Tuskegee Army Air Field, their predecessors, and their non-profit organization, Tuskegee Airmen, Inc. The BREAKING THROUGH Lighting the Way exhibition will produce a Herrington monograph, which will contain a guide to her UCR archive and many heretofore unpublished photographs from her personal archive.

The Tuskegee Airmen Archive at the University of California, Riverside has an enlarged photo of Lena Horne with several airmen, including Celes King III, who may have met her when she stayed in the Los Angeles Dunbar Hotel managed by his uncle.

Lena Horne & Tuskegee Airmen
Maycie Harrington, a civilian employee at the base hospital, married to cadet Aaron Harrington, is active in the Los Angeles Tuskegee Airmen, Inc.  According to UCR Libraries: Tuskegee bases had ground and civilian staff for nonflying duties. 

Herrington's biography is included in BREAKING THROUGH Lighting the Way, a book of twelve historical profiles--filmed, compiled, edited and written--about twelve African American women who made a noteworthy difference in the history of Long Beach, California. The project is being prepared as a major exhibition of portraits, historic photographic restorations, ancestral documents and personal papers that will travel around the nation in the next three years.

The efforts of the Tuskegee Airmen, Maycie Herrington and many others like them led to full participation of African Americans in American life. Maycie Herrington and many others are documenting history that is a fading memory of people and events distantly identified with a foggy and nearly forgotten past, subjects, like so many others, in which interest only increases with the passage of time, the passing on of the participants and the curiosity of a new generation.

Maycie Herrington was awarded a Congressional Gold Medal.

Tuskegee Airmen Congressional Gold Medal Ceremony
Tuskegee Airmen Presidential Gold Medal Ceremony
Maycie Herrington was awarded a Congressional Gold Medal in 2007 for her civilian role in supporting the Tuskegee Airmen and her work at the Tuskegee Army Air Force Base in Tuskegee, Alabama, during World War II (WWII). Along with about 300 surviving Tuskegee Airmen, Maycie was honored at a ceremony in Washington D.C. by then president, George W. Bush and former president Bill Clinton. In that number, there were 40 Red Tail combat pilots.

More than a collection of memories and historical documents, Maycie Herrington continued to archive Tuskegee Airmen history and fold it into American history. For the last 70 years, she has guarded the details of the Tuskegee Airmen with the dedication of a mother hen guarding her eggs. She knew the Tuskegee Airmen. They were friends of hers and her Tuskegee Airman husband, Aaron Herrington. Over the past 70 years, she has remained friends with them, "Even after Aaron's death," she said. "I felt it was my duty to keep up with the details, stay in touch and remain active in the Tuskegee Organization."

Maycie Herrington has lived in Long Beach, California, since the end of World War II (WWII). 

Maycie Herrington Tuskegee Airmen Lecture
Maycie Herrington
Tuskegee Airmen Lecture
Maycie Herrington was born in Raleigh, North Carolina, on November 7, 1918, the year that World War I (WWI) ended. During WWII, she began documenting one of the most historic periods in U.S. military history, Tuskegee Airmen. She made presentations and lectures on the Tuskegee Airmen all over the country for many years following the war. An expert on the history of this group of African American pilots, Herrington served as secretary at the Tuskegee Alabama Airfield during those critical years of airmen training and WWII fighter pilot active duty, as well as being historian and secretary to the group of former military black pilots until 2005, long after their service duties had ended.

Herrington's Tuskegee Airmen documentation covers this entire period of WWII history as well as later American history as she chronicled the lives of the first black American-trained war pilots. 

When Tuskegee was chosen to train black pilots, the Civilian Pilot Training Program had already completed aeronautical training of students by May 1940. Tuskegee's Moton Airfield Institute was named for Robert Russa Moton, its second president and funded by the Julius Rosenwald Fund.
Tuskegee Students Sew Aviation insignias
Tuskegee Students Sew 
Aviation Insignia
Photo: Air Force Historical 
Research Agency
Maycie Herrington, part of the professional civilian support staff associated with Tuskegee Airmen training, was among more than 10,000 African Americans, military and civilian that, according Legends of Tuskegee, “supported the pilots in training at Tuskegee as instructors, officers, bombardiers, navigators, radio technicians, mechanics, air traffic controllers, parachute riggers, and electrical and communications specialists.”

The Tuskegee Airmen story lasted from 1941 until 1945, shortly after the war ended. 

The multifaceted signature project, BREAKING THROUGH Lighting the Way Exhibition, is comprised of archival portraiture, ancestral photographic restorations, artifacts, historic papers, archaic document reproductions, memorabilia, and newspaper and magazine clippings collected, organized by award-winning humanitarian Carolyn Smith Watts, and award-winning author and photojournalist Sunny Nash, on 12 African American Women who made a Difference in the Cultural History of Long Beach, California.


The Port of Long Beach demonstrated its commitment to equal employment access and professional opportunity over the years by appointing the first female Chief Wharfinger in the nation, one of the Legends of this project; and continues that commitment with its support of this project.

Sponsors, donors, partners and contributors committed to date are listed here. Others will be joining the list in the near future. All are welcome to LIKE the Legends on FaceBook.

In 2015, after Nash won a 2015 Arts Council for Long Beach Professional Artist Fellowship to design a Museum Catalogue and restore photographs, BREAKING THROUGH Lighting the Way became a Sigature Project of photo restorations, artifacts, document reproductions, ancestral papers and online resources. 

Molina Healthcare

For more than 30 years, Molina has been providing quality, affordable health care to individuals and families covered by government programs. 


Andy Street 
Community Association

BREAKING THROUGH Lighting the Way Exhibition previewed at the Andy Street Community Association's Bixby Knolls EXPO Event in February. Hundreds of spectators were able to get a glimpse of the coming exhibition, scheduled to open in September. 

At the June 5th First Friday Event in Bixby Knolls, there will be an exhibit preview at the Historical Society of Long Beach featuring 230 collective years of educational accomplishments of the 12 Legends of BREAKING THROUGH Lighting the Way.

Tuttle Cameras Long Beach
Based on the collection of historical profiles, published in 2007, edited by Sunny Nash, and foreword by Carolyn Smith Wattswhose award-winning photograph of the Long Beach Living Legends was published in the Tuttle Cameras book, One Camera Long Beach.

Chick-fil-A Towne Center, Long Beach

John Howard of the Chick-fil-A Towne Center Long Beach was present that crisp sunny day in September at the Shoreline Village photo session when the historic picture of the Legends was taken.

International Realty & Investments

The project also includes oral history, new photo/video capture and recently discovered images and artifacts that will also be included in a series of television programs on LBTV, the Television Station owned and operated by the City of Long Beach.


City of Long Beach

Long Beach dignitaries will attend and participate in The Grand Opening. Southern California Media organizations will be invited to a Press Conference at 2:00 p.m. in the Loraine & Earl Burns Miller Special Collections Room of the Long Beach Public Library.

Long Beach Public Library, Main Branch

The Long Beach Public Library will host the event in its Atrium Center & Theater off of City Hall Public Plaza, 101 Pacific Ave., Long Beach, California. There will a VIP Reception in the Atrium Garden prior to the program and the screening of a film and online resources.


Long Beach City College
Long Beach Unified 
School District

Long Beach City College (LBCC) and Long Beach Unified School District (LBUSD) will play equally significant roles in as education partners in advertising the event to their respective constituents. Both have student bodies and faculty to which they will provide electronic announcements on their Internet and broadcast communication systems. Both LBCC and LBUSD can lay claim to several Legends, who either taught, served as officials or attended both LBCC and LBUSD

Los Angeles County 
Sheriff's Department
Los Angeles Sheriff's Department in collaboration with the Long Beach Unified School District will participate in a mini-exhibit and event at Jordan High School, where student government officers will also be present to participate in a seminar involving one of the Legends who was an official of the school.

This event commemorates the historical relationship between Long Beach Unified School District and Los Angeles Sheriff's Department.

 homepage home

All Rights Reserved Worldwide.

~Thank You~

Breaking Through Lighting the Way

1 comment:

  1. I have read a few of the articles on your website now, and I really like your style of blogging. I added it to my favorites blog site list and will be checking back soon. Please check out my site as well and let me know what you think.
    Pendant Lights