Curator of the "A Pilot Lights the Way" Exhibit
A Pilot Lights the Way…is a collection of art, photographs, artifacts, literature, and oral accounts of the life of Jesse Leroy Brown. A most engaging part of the exhibit is the beautiful art collection of artist Carl Rapheal Purdy. On Dec. 4, 1950, Ensign Jesse L. Brown's F4U Corsair, flying close air support for the Marines in the Chosin Reservoir, was hit by ground fire. Brown, then age 24, the first African-American naval fighter pilot, could not make it to Hagaru-ri. Bill Koenig radioed to him, “Jesse you are losing fuel! ” Moments later, the belly of Jesse’s Corsair landed roughly in the snow. His squadron mates, circling above, saw Ensign Brown slide his canopy open, but he did not get out of the smoking plane. His wingman, Lt. Thomas Hudner crash landed his Corsair nearby. Finding Brown's legs pinned under a hydraulic panel, he called for a rescue helicopter. Meanwhile, he comforted Brown, who was in severe pain, and tried to put the fire out with snow. The helicopter, however, was no help, and darkness was approaching. Brown was unconscious and believed dead. Hudner had to get out. The Navy gave Brown a Valkyrian tribute. Two days later four Corsairs flew overhead and cremated Brown and the two Corsairs in a billow of napalm. The exhibit also includes some history of, “Blacks in Aviation”.
Accompanying the exhibit is the documentary film, Jesse Leroy Brown: First African American Naval Aviator, by Executive Producers: Defense International Service at the University of Central Florida (UCF), Dr. Daniel Holsenbeck and Dr. Alzo Reddick with Producers Anthony Major and Valada Flewellyn.
The Zora Neale Hurston Institute for Documentary Studies, (ZNHIDS) Anthony Major, Program Director, College of Arts & Humanities, UCF. ZNHIDS through research, documenting and programming encourages civic engagement and works with communities using art, culture and humanities as a framework. The Zora Neale Hurston Institute is focused on the theory and practice of storytelling and cinematic expression.
The Soldiers to Scholars Program was established at the University of Central Florida
in 1995 by Dr. Alzo Reddick, Founder & Director, to assist ex-military members in obtaining their college degrees in exchange for their acting as mentors and role models to at risk children.