This past Saturday, 500 Men Making a Difference, along with We Make Us Better and Rock Boy Choppers Custom Bikes, sponsored the second annual John Mulzac Holiday Party, to benefit the women and children of the Rose F. Kennedy Center, a transitional residence for homeless, pregnant and parenting young women and their children in Bed-Stuy.
Dozens of families came out to hear Bed-Stuy resident and 87-year-old bomber pilot John Mulzac, one of the original Tuskegee Airmen, speak about his experience as one of the first black fighter pilots in the U.S. armed forces.
Initially called the “Tuskegee Experiment,” the first class of cadet aviators began in July 1941 with 13 students at the Tuskegee Army Air Field, about 40 miles east of Montgomery, Alabama.
Black people weren’t allowed to fly in the military at the time, and the “experiment” was to see whether they could pilot airplanes and handle heavy machinery.
Even after the black airmen were admitted, many continued to believe they didn't have the intelligence, ability or patriotism to do the job.
Children and parents listened intently as Mulzac recounted his days in the air force during segregated America; how despite all odds, he kept his eyes on the prize, studied and made sure he and all of his fellow airmen became excellent at their craft.
In fact the Tuskegee Airmen went on to be one of the air force’s most skilled, resilient and reliable infantry of pilots during World War II, with one of the lowest casualty rates.
After Mulzac spoke, Santa arrived to hand out free toys to all of the children. 500 Black Men and a team of volunteers catered a Christmas dinner for the families while the children played, took turns patting Santa’s peculiarly pillow-shaped belly and running up to Mulzac to ask him questions.
The smiles on the faces of both the children and on John Mulzac brought out of everyone enough holiday cheer to last through the New Year.