Thomas Nelson Community College to Celebrate Life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr

Published: January 11, 2008

Thomas Nelson Community College will have its Martin Luther King Jr. Day observance on Tuesday, Jan. 15. A program themed Keeping the Dream Alive, 40 Years after King’s Death is set for 11:00 a.m. at the Mary T. Christian Auditorium, Hampton campus.

Sponsored by the Student Government Association, the Office of Student Activities and the African-American History and Culture Club, the free program is open to the public and will feature reflections on the day’s theme by TNCC students Ann-Marie Lovett and Jolene Nemec; a dance performance by the College’s Gator Velocity Dance Team and songs performed by TNCC student Rotita Dupree and Helen Stallings, a TNCC financial aid advisor. Dr. Charles A. Taylor, TNCC president will present the Second Annual Leadership Award to Tuskegee Airman, Ezra M. Hill, a retired U.S. Air Force Master Sergeant and Hampton, VA resident.

The College established its Presidential Leadership Award to honor King’s life and work by recognizing outstanding community leaders who are important role models for students. Student leaders, along with TNCC faculty and staff, submitted nominations for the award.

For additional information, please contact the Office of Student Activities at 825-2863.

About Mr. Ezra M. Hill:

Born in Newport News, Va. in 1930, Mr. Ezra M. Hill moved to the Washington D.C. as a child and lived there until age 17 when he joined the Army Air Corps at Fort Meade, Md. After completing basic training at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas, he was assigned to crash and rescue recovery at Columbus, Ohio’s Lockbourne Air Force Base. During this assignment, he heroically helped the leader of the famed Tuskegee Airman Col. B.O. Davis from his damaged airplane.

Although Mr. Hill’s primary duties were in crash and recovery, because of his talents, he spent most of his time in Special Services Activities. While at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., he became the first African-American and first enlisted man to play base-level basketball. As a member of the Air Force basketball team, he participated in a worldwide competition and was also with Operation Happiness during his military career as a singer.

In 1956, after a three-year assignment in Japan, he was assigned to McGuire Air Force Base, N.J. where he received weapons systems technician training. His training continued at Lowry Air Force Base, Colo. and Hughes Aircraft Plants until he was assigned to Langley Air Force Base at Langley, Va. where he worked as a weapons systems technician in the 48th Fighter Interceptor Squadron from 1960 to 1965.

Upon retiring from the military in 1967, Mr. Hill became a teacher with Newport News Public Schools. He also worked for the Navy at Naval Air Station, Norfolk, Va. as a computer technician supervisor for 18 years before retiring for a second time.

Mr. Hill and his wife, Mable, have dedicated their post-retirement lives to helping young people better themselves through education. Their passion for helping inner-city youth resulted in the 1997 founding of the Save My Family (SMF) Haven of Hope Foundation in downtown Newport News.

Mr. Hill has also authored, The Red Tail Angels: A Story of the Tuskegee Airman which is a delightful recounting of the history of the Tuskegee Airmen for children of all ages. The book was presented to President Bush at the White House during a visit by Mr Hill. He was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor along with his fellow Tuskegee Airmen in March 2007.

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