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William Jenifer Powell
Birth: 1897, USA
Death: Jul. 12, 1942

Aviator, Social Reformer. He founded the nation's first all-black flying school, launched the nation's first all-black air shows, and inspired African American to break racial limits and pursue careers in aviation. He invested his life savings to finance Los Angeles' Bessie Coleman Aero Club; and he recruited and trained some of the future Tuskegee Airmen, the World War II pilots whose segregated squadron would destroy 260 German plans and damage another 148. A Lieutenant in the United States Army during World War I, on the last day of that conflict he inhaled poison gas that left him with lifelong lung damage. In 1927, three months after Charles Lindbergh landed in Paris, Powell took his first airplane ride and his life course was set. He sold his gas stations and headed for Los Angeles to enroll in the Warren School of Aeronautics, the only aviation school that would accept him. In 1929, he joined forces with Irvin E. Wells and James Herman Banning, a barnstormer from Iowa and the nation's first licensed black male pilot, and the three founded the Bessie Coleman Aero Club. Their flying team, called the Blackbirds, staged "All-Negro Air Shows" during the early 1930s. In 1934, he wrote a book, "Black Wings," which promoted black-owned and operated commercial airlines, training schools and aircraft manufacturers. The following year, he produced a documentary film, "Unemployment, the Negro and Aviation" to inspire future airmen; and he sponsored scholarships for black youths who wanted to learn to fly. Sadly, he did not live to witness the heroism of his most distinguished proteges, the Tuskegee Airmen, dying in 1942. (bio by: Shiver) 
Los Angeles National Cemetery
Los Angeles
Los Angeles County
California, USA
Plot: 84, 4/I
Maintained by: Find A Grave
Originally Created by: Shiver
Record added: Mar 24, 2004
Find A Grave Memorial# 8553438
William Jenifer Powell
Added by: Shiver
William Jenifer Powell
Added by: Shiver
William Jenifer Powell
Added by: Shiver
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- Mairbair57
 Added: Aug. 30, 2014
You served our country faithfully. May we always cherish our freedom by honoring your memory. God bless you!
- Darlene T.
 Added: Jul. 12, 2014

- Brenda Hedges
 Added: Jun. 29, 2014
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