Virgil J. Richardson
Class: 43-F-SE
Graduation Date:  6/30/1943
Unit:  332 Squadron
Rank: 2nd Lt.
Service # 08071 07

Virgil Richardson has blazed his own unique trail through the twentieth century: a co-founder of Harlem’s American Negro Theater and radio personality in the 1930’s and a World War II pilot with the famed Tuskegee Airmen.

Educated in Texas, Richardson set out for New York City to try his hand on the stage.
On the brink of success as an actor, he was drafted into the army at the dawn of World War II.  After overcoming numerous obstacles, Richardson became a Tuskegee cadet in 1943, and later saw action above the battlefields of Europe.

As one of the “actors” in Leo Hurwitz’s 1948 masterpiece STRANGE VICTORY, Virgil Richardson, portrays a pilot who comes back from the war to find that there are no jobs for him because of the color of his skin.  Sadly, by the next year, Richardson’s life was tragically similar to his story in the film.

Upon returning to the racially divided US, he decided to move to Mexico as part of the black ex-pats looking for a better life outside his native land, where he encountered a society quite different from the one he had left behind.  He spent most of the 50’s and 60’s there, making his way as a performer and teacher.

Flight: The Story of Virgil Richardson, A Tuskegee Airman in Mexico”, a book about Virgil J. Richardson, written and documented by historian Ben Vinson III, draws the reader into the rich and fascinating life of a determined individual unwilling to accept the limited options available to him in America.

Researched and submitted by Kelly Collin



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