LaVon Stennis Williams was motivated to write a book after talking with youths who had seen a movie about the Tuskegee Airmen but thought that they were fictional characters.
The book “When I Grow Up I Want to Be Like the Brave Men of Tuskegee” is a delightful book that tells about the history of the Tuskegee Airmen in a way that is engaging to children.
“I want to help preserve the history of the Tuskegee Airmen in a way that young readers can learn this history,” Williams said.
During World War II, the Tuskegee Airmen was the name given to the members of the U.S. Army Air Corps’ 332nd Fighter Group and the 477th Bombardment Group. These two groups were made up of all African-American pilots who trained at Tuskegee Army Airfield in Tuskegee, Alabama.
“While conducting the research for my book, I researched other black historical institutions,” Williams said. “We are in jeopardy of losing these institutions’ history on our younger generations. The younger generations are often not taught these great legacies in school, nor in their homes, as it was when I was growing up.”
Williams has a love of history from being taught about it by her mother, especially black history. Her mother was not content leaving black history to be taught at school.
Williams said she, like many people, has had some struggles in life. She wants to encourage young children to rise above their struggles.
The Tuskegee Airmen faced all kinds of hardships in life, including people not thinking that these men were capable of flying airplanes because they were black. In fact, they were not able to be accepted in job-training programs to even learn to fly.
But, thankfully, in 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt approved an expansion of the Army Air Corps, including training programs at black colleges.
“I want young and old readers to know that no one can stop them from achieving a dream if you are willing to put in the work,” Williams said.
There were 16 native Nebraskan Tuskegee Airmen and four others who moved here. In Omaha, we have a local chapter named after Alfonza W. Davis, a Tech High graduate who was a Tuskegee Airman. The Alfonza W. Davis Chapter, founded in 1988, was formed to preserve the legacy of the airmen.
We also have Davis Middle School in Omaha, likewise named after Alfonza W. Davis. Robert Holts is the last surviving Tuskegee Airman in Nebraska.
Williams said this book is part of a legacy series that will share black history through the eyes of Brandon Dean, the precocious 8-year-old who is the main character in this book. She named him Brandon after her newly born grandson.
Williams said her dedication page has a tribute to not only her grandchildren, but also to Sgt. Kyle Wayne LeFlore, a member of the U.S. Army who was killed in January during a robbery when he was home on leave.
“My next book will be about little people doing big things, young African-American children who made significant contributions to American history,” Williams said.
Williams started Two Bee Publishing to provide an opportunity for aspiring authors to have their books printed at reasonable costs and allow them to stay in control of the process.
The name reflects that Two Bee publishes books that motivate people to become all they aspire “to be.”