Local Tuskegee Airmen will be celebrated this weekend in Oberlin.
A memorial "Honoring the Tuskegee Airmen of Oberlin, Ohio," will be unveiled Saturday as part of “Juneteenth” celebrations.
Nine men, with ties to Oberlin, will receive the long-delayed recognition on a monument in the city.
Juneteenth is one of the oldest known celebrations commemorating the end of slavery in the United States.
According to the Juneteenth Oberlin Executive Board, the annual celebration will begin at 9 am in the heart of Oberlin’s downtown at Tappan’s Square.
The festival is beginning earlier this year to accommodate a presentation for the Oberlin Tuskegee Airmen Memorial at Martin Luther King Park.
Guest speaker Delbert Spurlock will headline the event at 10:30am.
The plaque lists nine men, who had ties to Oberlin.
They include: “James Cannon, Gilbert Cargill, William A. Johnston Jr., Norman E. Proctor, Wayman E. Scott, Ferrier H. White, William L. Williams Jr., William Young, and Perry H. Young Jr.
Local historian, Margaret Christian wrote a book on the men she researched for her book, “Tuskegee Airmen: Men of Color Call to Action.”
“The pen is mightier than the sword,” Christian told WKYC’s Hilary Golston. “The book will at least put it out there, then people will say well why? And the book did, because you wouldn’t be standing here without the book.”
Christian says the research and fight to recognize the men appearing on the plaque was a long road.
“I was determined that it was gonna be done. You just have to fight… if you tolerate anything... you’ll never change it,” Christian said.
Denise White Fields’ great uncle, James Cannon, is among those listed on the memorial. “It’s just a miracle that in our lifetime…. I’m tearing up now… that we’re able to document it for my parents who are not here, for uncle Jim.”
Fields says she and her family heard rumors Cannon might have been a Tuskegee Airman, but researching the truth of the matter after he passed away was difficult because they lacked documents.
She discovered her uncle didn’t fly to Germany with the "red wings," but learned he was an airman and deserved the recognition, because of Christian’s research.
A parade and activities for the kids will be a part of the festivities, Juneteenth organizers say. They also have planned to include “well-known food booths, and local vendors. Main stage events begin at 11am with local church choirs including Oberlin Christian Missionary and Alliance Choir…. Blues singer, SoundEVR Acoustic, local hip-hop artists and other musical entertainers” will be on hand. “The parade begins at 12pm with the 5th U.S. Colored Troops, the Black Cowboys, Mr. Juneteenth the clown, an Abe Lincoln reenactor, and steppers from all over the county.”