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Hannah tops in Tuskegee essay

Raquel Spiegel works as art instructor at Discovery Middle School. CONTRIBUTED
Raquel Spiegel works as art instructor at Discovery Middle School. CONTRIBUTED

MADISON – Grace Hannah, an art student at Discovery Middle School, was selected as winner in the Black History Essay Contest for the Tuskegee Airmen of Excellence Award.

Hannah received her award on Feb 13 at the 14th annual Black History Enrichment and Enlightenment Festival at Trinity United Methodist Church in Huntsville. Rosie’s International Services Inc. sponsored the contest and festival.

Hannah’s art teacher at Discovery is Raquel Spiegel, who teaches visual arts with classes in sculpture and mixed media. Spiegel also sponsors Art Club.

For the contest, students were asked to explain their thoughts about why the Tuskegee Airmen represented an important chapter in American history. The contest was open to high school, middle school, elementary and home-school students.

In her essay, Hannah wrote that the airmen trained in Tuskegee, Ala. and Selfridge Field, Mich. “They flew P-51 Mustangs or pursuit planes, and their main job was to protect the bombers. Without these Tuskegee Airmen, present times might have been a lot different.”

“At the time they joined the military, there was a lot of racism going on in the U.S. Before World War II, the U.S. Army Air Corp didn’t allow African Americans to serve in the military in fighting,” Hannah said. “If they wanted to help they were given low jobs — support roles like truck drivers and mechanics, but they were not given positions in frontline combat.”

At the Black History Festival, U.S. Air Force retired Col. R.J. Lewis, president of the Tuskegee Airmen, was featured speaker. “The history that Col. Lewis touched on is unforgettable,” Spiegel said. “I was very glad to see young people in the audience respectfully listening.”

“Through art, we may communicate and understand diverse cultures in a global society,” Rosie Douglas with Rosie’s International Services said.

In addition, Discovery students won in the Black History Art Contest in celebration of this month’s commemorative distinction at Redstone Arsenal.

Aaliyah Coe won first place in the art contest. Other honorees were Vaughn Barnhart, second place; Amber Guo, third; and Tinamarie Wilks, Honorable Mention.

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