NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A lucky group of students in Queens received an extra-special living history lesson on Thursday.
On the eve of Martin Luther King Day weekend, a historical WWII and civil rights figure stepped out of the history books.
CBS2’s Meg Baker was on hand when Dabney Montgomery, 91, spoke to students.
Montgomery was a member of the Tuskegee Airmen. He said he hopes to inspire students of the Merrick Academy to do what others have done before them, to make their own history.
The Tuskegee Airmen were the first African-American military aviators in the U.S. armed forces.
“It’s so important to teach the young ones because in every generation someone is going to challenge them and their freedom,” Montgomery said.
Drafted into the 96th Air Service Group in 1943, Montgomery served through the end of World War II. He was stationed in Italy and received awards for aiding in the allied victory.
Later in life Montgomery was heavily involved in the civil right movement.
“Even though you are challenged stand up for truth and right and that’s the way you live your life,” he told students.
Montgomery served as a body guard to Martin Luther King during the historic 1965 march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama. He showed students the heels of the shoes he wore in that march.
“And when we arrived in Montgomery I took the heels off my shoes, and here they are. Living evidence that someone fought for you because they cared for you,” he said.
Thursday’s event celebrated the life of Martin Luther King.
Montgomery said as long as he is able to he will continue to travel and teach our youngest minds a piece of history that he says we must never forget.
Tuskegee Airmen served from 1941 to 1949. Survivors are now in their 80s or older.
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