LeRoy Battle

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LeRoy Battle is a former World War II pilot, teacher, and jazz musician. He was one of the Tuskegee Airmen and was one of the African American officers involved in the Freeman Field Mutiny.

World War II[edit]

Battle was selected as one of the African American pilots to join the Tuskegee Airmen. After his training at Tuskegee, he served in the European theater and, upon his return to the states, was sent to Freeman Field in Indiana to prepare for deployment to the Pacific theater. While at Freeman Field, the black pilots were arrested for attempting to enter the segregated whites-only officers' club.[1] Battle recalls of the incident:

We went to the theater, then a bunch of us went over to the club. We brushed by [the MPs], went in and sat down. Col. Selway … put us under barrack arrest. They had a barbed-wire fence around our area. We could look out and see the Italian POWs walking around, going to the PX. We would meet in the lavatory.

—LeRoy Battle[1]

After the war[edit]

Battle became an educator at Douglass High School in Upper Marlboro, Maryland and established himself as a jazz musician, leading the band LeRoy Battle and the Altones.[2]

Anti-segregationist[edit]

While an educator at Douglass High School, Battle tried to fight segregation in the Washington Redskins organization.[3] He wanted the team's marching band and cheerleaders, the Redskinettes, to be desegregated. Battle encouraged two of his band members to audition for the Washington Redskins band. Both men complained about the application process; they claimed the Redskins organization wasn’t sending out applications to African Americans. Joel Margolis, the Redskins business manager said “That not many colored apply, Last year we had fifty one tryouts and only one was colored.” Mr. Battle said that advertising towards colored applicants were being ignored by the Redskins.

Jazz musician[edit]

While fighting with the Redskins, Battle continue to create music with his own jazz band. LeRoy Battle and the Altones became a very famous band in Maryland. They were given a regularly scheduled gig on the Tony Kornheiser show on ESPN Radio.[2]

Leroy Battle is now 85 years old and his band still travels around Maryland playing small clubs and special events. He talks about how much he loves creating music and will be playing clubs and writing music until he passes away.[citation needed]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Migdal, Rebecca (10 February 2007). "Flying high". The Brooklyn Paper. Retrieved 24 November 2009. 
  2. ^ a b Dodd, Darcey (February 11–17, 1999). "Cool Altones Jazz Backs Hot Kornheiser on ESPN Radio". New Bay Times. Retrieved November 22, 2009. [dead link]
  3. ^ Garnett, Bernard (October 23, 1965). "'Dixie' is out for Redskins Band". Baltimore Afro-American. Retrieved November 22, 2009.