Benjamin O. Davis Jr. Collection

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This collection consists of material gathered by General and Mrs. Davis over the course of their lives to 1993. The bulk of this collection consists of correspondence, news clippings, and photographs relating to or received by the Davises, especially after General Davis retired from the Air Force. The collection is particularly rich in materials from the black press of the 1940s, documenting the response of the black community to the activities of the 99th Fighter Squadron and 332d Fighter Group during and after World War II, and contains a small amount of material related to the controversy surrounding the units’ combat performance and the morale issues raised by the segregated society of the 1940s. Most of the remainder of the material from Davis’ military career centers on his own activities. Davis’ tenure as the Director of Public Safety in Cleveland coincides with the activities of the Black Panther movement and the term of Mayor Carl Stokes, Cleveland’s first mayor of African descent; the news clippings and correspondence from this period highlight police activities and public reaction in this racially-polarized atmosphere. Much of the material from Davis’ early tenure at the Department of Transportation deals with civil aviation security, initially to counter the hijacking wave of the early 1970s and later to reduce cargo theft. The material from his later years, particularly during his years as a consultant, deals primarily with attempts to reduce gasoline consumption, especially his work promoting the 55mph National Maximum Speed Limit. The largest blocks of material from Davis’ private life relate to his tenure on the President’s Commission on Campus Unrest (1970) and the President’s Commission on Military Compensation (1977-1978); these contain, respectively, materials on student protests, including the shootings at Kent State, and on issues surrounding military pay and retirement. There is also a significant body of material relating to his association with Tuskegee Airmen, Inc. and his speaking tours to increase public knowledge of the role of black servicemen during World War II.

See the full transcript in the National Air and Space Museum Archives

Read about the project in the National Air and Space Museum Archives

Learn more about Benjamin O. Davis Jr. in TUSKEGEE AIRMEN PROFILES!