February 24, 2010

Pilot's milestone marks Black History Month

Posted: February 24, 2010

Monica Green, a history professor in the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies in ASU’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, gives her perspective in the Feb. 24 Race-Talk on Continental Airlines naming a new Boeing 737 for her father. The honor took place nearly 50 years after her father initiated a legal case against the company and won a Supreme Court case that resulted in his hiring as the first black commercial airline pilot for Continental.

“What was I to make of this gesture, coming from my father’s former adversary as well as employer?" Green writes of her father, Capt. Marlon Green. "This was no small honor. (And no small plane!) Only a handful of planes in Continental’s fleet of over 300 aircraft bear names, and then only of past company presidents. But what did it mean?”

The historian in her “saw this as an event symbolizing the transformations our society has witnessed in the past 50 years.”

At the naming ceremony in Houston on Feb. 9, Green wrote she “praised the plane as a living exhibit, a record of my father’s story that would fly all over the country, touching the lives of every airline employee and passenger who encountered it.”

An additional story about the naming ceremony she references in her essay (link provided below) appeared Feb. 10 on the front page of the Houston Chronicle, under the tagline “Milestone in diversity.” A copy of that story is online at http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/headline/biz/6859688.html.

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