1976 Horatio Alger Award Winner
"Don't get so busy practicing your right to dissent that you forget your responsibility to contribute."
Daniel James, Jr. was the youngest of 17 children (10 died before he was born), and was raised in Pensacola, Florida. His father was a lamplighter and a gas plant worker. Dissatisfied with segregated school education, his mother started her own school in which about 70 neighborhood children were enrolled. James' interest in aviation stemmed from watching flights from the nearby U. S. Naval Air Station. At age 12, he took odd jobs at an airport in exchange for plane rides and flying lessons. In 1942, he served as a civilian flight instructor in the Army Air Corps and was a second lieutenant upon graduation. He was involved in protests to provide equality for blacks within the armed services. In 1948, President Truman ordered the integration of the armed forces and in 1950 and 1951 James flew more than 101 combat missions over Korea. He moved steadily up the ranks and in 1975 became the United States' first black four-star general. He was Commander-in-Chief of the North American Air Defense Command and the U. S. Air Force Aerospace Defense Command.* Deceased