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Benjamin Oliver Davis Jr.

Benjamin Oliver Davis Jr.



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Davis and the Tuskegee Airmen

Davis and the Tuskegee Airmen



Benjamin Oliver Davis Jr. (b. 1912)
CLASS OF 1936

Davis was West Point’s fourth African American graduate and the first in the 20th century. Like the others, he endured four years of racial prejudice. In the Cadet Chapel two weeks after graduation he married Agatha Scott, his much-needed support in the coming years of struggle against racial discrimination within and beyond the military community.

Ordered to Tuskegee Institute, Alabama, for segregated flight training in World War II, Davis completed the course and took command of the all-black 99th Pursuit Squadron, the famous Tuskegee Airmen. He emerged from the war a much decorated colonel. Military segregation ended by presidential order in 1949.

In 1954 Davis became the air force’s first black general, just as his father earlier had been the army’s first. He retired in 1970 as lieutenant general. In a 1998 ceremony at the White House, President Clinton awarded the 86-year-old Davis his fourth star.



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Class of 1980




Key Figures






Garrison Holt Davidson
Garrison Holt Davidson
1904–1992
Class of 1927



Creighton Williams Abrams Jr.
Creighton Williams Abrams Jr.
1914–1974
Class of 1936



Benjamin Oliver Davis Jr.
Benjamin Oliver Davis Jr.
1912–2002
Class of 1936





Smithsonian National Museum of American History


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West Point in History Introduction 1802–1860 1861–1870 1866–1914 1914–1918 Epilogue Introduction 1802–1860 1861–1870 1866–1914 1914–1918 Epilogue Restoring the Academy The Class the Stars Fell On Making the Modern Academy Class of 1980