15

TUESDAY

Outside of the aeronautical arena, William J. Powell is relatively unknown. But even before the Tuskegee Airmen crossed the vast racial divide in the sky in 1941, Powell, a pilot and engineer, hailed black wings. Freedom and flight have long been symbolically linked, but for Powell, blacks’ entry into the aeronautical industry in its infancy was synonymous with liberation. The rights blacks lacked on the ground, he thought, could be achieved in the air. The Renaissance man was also a novelist, trade-magazine publisher, playwright, and filmmaker, and each of his artistic offerings—including his thinly veiled autobiography, Black Wings, and his play Ethiopia Spreads Her Wings—was thematically linked to fulfilling his dream of converting the masses into aviators. Powell has been dubbed an “air prophet” and, like most prophets, was ahead of his time. Today, meet National Air and Space Museum curator Von Hardesty for a lecture on Powell at noon at the National Air and Space Museum’s museum seal in the Milestones of Flight Gallery, 6th and Independence Avenue SW. Free. (202) 357-2700. (Nefretiti Makenta)