More than 250 employees, leaders and community members attended Delta’s Black History Month event, highlighting the airline’s work with the Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals and the honoring of an original Tuskegee Airman.
Charisse Evans, V.P.–Reservation Sales and Customer Care and Executive Sponsor of BEN, and Letty Ashworth, Director–Global Diversity, welcomed attendees to the event and discussed Delta’s strong commitment to diversity.
“It’s a wonderful experience to not only have all of the varying diversity at our company, but also in this room today,” Charisse said. “Delta values diversity and understands the importance as we are a global carrier. We service over 65 countries, so it’s very important for us to give back and to reflect the communities we serve.”
Captain James Gordon, a chairman of the Board of Directors for OBAP, Ernie Taylor, MD-88 Captain for Delta, and Marcus Neyor, MD-88 First Officer for Delta, presented an overview of Delta’s partnership with OBAP and all of the work the airline is doing in the community.
“I am so excited for the opportunity to get to talk about my favorite organization and my favorite company,” Ernie said. “Delta is the premiere center for OBAP’s Aviation Career Education Academy. For one week we bring in 45 kids and we expose them to aviation history, aerodynamics, meteorology, navigation and flight simulators, to show them all the different facets of aviation. It’s important for us to create that spark early on and it is all fostered here at Delta.”
The event concluded with a special presentation honoring Lt. Col. Harry Stewart, an original Tuskegee Airman. During the presentation, he was surprised by Jim Graham, V.P.–Flying Operations and Chief Pilot and Executive Sponsor of the Veterans Employee Network, who recognized Stewart by giving him the title of “honorary Delta captain.” Along with his new title, he was presented with captain wings and given a commemorative photo of a Delta aircraft with an engraved plaque.
“At Delta not only do we pride ourselves on being an industry leader, but we also pride ourselves on the mentorship and the role models that we bring forward for those who come behind us to emulate,” Jim said. “As a member of Flight Operations, one of the highest role models we have is the position of Delta captain. It’s very rare that we get the chance to have an opportunity to convey the title of honorary Delta captain, but today it’s my honor to do just that.”
Lt. Col. Stewart took the stage to receive his new honor and shared his thoughts on his newest title.
“Thank you very, very much. I’ll always remember this moment,” he said. “What a wonderful diverse and talented group. I’m sorry my brethren can’t be here today to see how far African-Americans have progressed in the field of aviation. Out of the original Tuskegee Airman, there are only 26 of us left, and I’m sure the others are looking down on this whole session and are quite proud of everything we have accomplished together.”
Delta First Officer Andre J., was also honored along with his three children and wife, who is also a Delta pilot, shared his thoughts on the event.
“The proactive approach that Delta has taken by far exceeds anything other airlines or companies are doing,” Andre said. “I’m just so fortunate my wife and I work for the same company that supports our values and goals and believes in the same efforts that we do.”