Willa Brown: African-American Woman in Aviation

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  • Topic: Tuskegee Airmen, Pilot certification in the United States, Chicago
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  • Published : December 4, 2012
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Willa Beatrice Brown was born January 1906 to Eric B. Brown, a minister, and Hallie Mae Carpenter Brown in Glasgow, Kentucky. She grew up in a household amongst four (4) male siblings and she was the only female born to her parents. Mr. Brown owned his own farm here and the family also included James, born in 1904, and Charles Guy, born in 1908. In the latter part of her childhood, her parents moved the family to Indianapolis, Indiana, when Brown was six years old and then to Terre Haute, Indiana in search of better opportunities in employment and education. Mr. Brown found work in a creosote factory and pastored the Holy Triumphant Church and the Church of God. David in Simeon in 1916 and David in 1921 were born to the Browns in Terre Haute. Willa worked part-time as a maid while in school. Willa Brown was a good student and graduated in 1923 from Wiley High School in Haute, Indiana. In following, Willa Brown attended the Indiana State Normal School (now Indiana State University) where she majored in business subject, then called commerce, minored in French, and belonged to the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority. Brown continued to return to Terre Haute during the summers of 1928, 1929, and 1931 to complete her degree. Within this time on November 1929, Brown and Wilbur J. Hardaway were married at the Israel CME (colored Methodist Episcopal) Church. Brown received her bachelor’s degree in August 1931, by which time she had been teaching in Gary Indiana for four years, some of them as head of the department of business subjects. Unfortunately, she divorced in 1931 but remained as a teacher until the 1932 school term ended then moved to Chicago. These were the Depression years, but Brown was never unemployed because of her secretarial skills. She held a variety of positions- some private, some with the federal government. Brown’s more prominent employers included Dr. Julius H. Lewis, the first Negro on the faculty of the University of Chicago’s medical school 1937-1938; Horace Cayton, co-author of Black Metropolis, a sociological study of Chicago, 1939; and Dr. Theodore K. Lawless, a dermatologist, 1938-1939. Brown took graduate evening courses at Northern University’s School of Commerce in Chicago in 1937, where she received an MA degree in business.

The researcher is an Aeronautical Science major with flight concentration at Florida Memorial University in Miami Gardens, Florida. This is a Midterm research paper of the researcher. The researcher chose this topic because the information is interesting and motivating. The researcher has plans to get her bachelors, join the Air Force and fly her own aircraft. DEFINITION OF TERMS USED

AVIATION- The design, development, production, operation, and use of aircraft, especially Heavier-than-air aircraft. CREOSOTE- An oily liquid having a burning taste and a penetrating odor, obtained by the distillation of coal and wood tar, used mainly as a preservative for wood and as an antiseptic. ACTIVIST- Someone who advocates or opposes a cause or issue vigorously, especially a political cause. STENOGRAPHY- The art of writing in shorthand.

AERONAUTICS- The science or art of flight.
ADJUTANT- A staff officer who assists the commanding officer in issuing orders. BIPLANES- An airplane with two wings, one above and usually slightly forward of the other. LIEUTENANT- A person who holds office, civil or military, in subordination to a superior for who, he or she acts. CAMPAIGN- A systematic course of aggressive activities for some specific purpose. SEGREGATED- restricted to one group exclusively on the basis of racial or ethnic membership. AIRFIELD- A leveled area, equipped with hard surfaced runways that airplanes take off and land on.

Despite living through what history coins the Great Depression years,...
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