Lincoln J. Ragsdale, pioneering African-American fighter pilot, civil rights leader and entrepreneur died on June 9, 1995, of colon cancer. He was 69.
After WWII, Ragsdale graduated from flight training at Tuskegee Army Airfield and later became a second lieutenant in the Army Air Corps, becoming one of the first 1,000 Black men to be integrated into the armed forces.
"I remember when we used to walk through Black neighborhoods right after the war and little kids would run up to us and touch our uniforms, 'Mister, can you really fly an airplane?' The Tuskegee airmen gave Blacks a reason to be proud,” Ragsdale said.
After the war, Ragsdale became the head of the Phoenix branch of the NAACP and ran a successful business in the south.
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(Photo: Afro American Newspapers/Gado/Getty Images)