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updated: 2/1/2014 6:33 PM

Elgin black history event a hit, but no Tuskegee Airmen

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  • Retired Sgt. Maj. Rubert Carr of Elgin, right, salutes emcee Col. W.E. Scott, left, during the ninth annual Black History Family Festival on Saturday at the Gail Borden Public Library in Elgin. Carr retired in 1982.

       Retired Sgt. Maj. Rubert Carr of Elgin, right, salutes emcee Col. W.E. Scott, left, during the ninth annual Black History Family Festival on Saturday at the Gail Borden Public Library in Elgin. Carr retired in 1982.
    Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

 
 

Saturday's snowstorm put a damper on the 9th annual Black History Family Festival in Elgin, whose guests of honor didn't make the event.

Members of the Tuskegee Airmen -- the first African-American pilots who fought in World War II -- couldn't come to deliver their message of exhorting youth to pursue secondary education and careers in aviation, said Ken Rapier, president of the Tuskegee Airmen's Chicago "Dodo" chapter.

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The chapter includes 10 original members, all in their late 80s and early 90s, as well as 70 "new generation" members like Rapier, he explained.

The theme of the festival was "Honoring Our Heroes; Contributions of African American Veterans."

Elgin resident Elise Jackson, who came with her 11-year-old son Elijah, said she was disappointed the Tuskegee Airmen weren't there, but enjoyed hearing from other veterans who participated.

Five U-46 students were recognized as "future African American leaders" for their community involvement, extracurricular activities, academic achievements and more.

The students are Elgin High School's Treasure Smith, Larkin High School's Elizabeth Oladokun, Streamwood High School's Kimberlee George Chukwameka, South Elgin High School's Katelynn Ware and Bartlett High School's Courtney Jones.

"I feel really lucky," Kimberlee said. "It was really surprising."

Nikia Naylor, a former Elgin resident who now lives in Hoffman Estates, said she was happy to stumble upon the festival while attending a free tax-preparation clinic at the library.

"You have to teach your kids, it's very important," she said. "Usually libraries don't do these things; it's good that Elgin does this."

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