Rice alumnus remembered at Tuskegee ceremony

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David Ruth
713-348-6327
david@rice.edu

Rice alumnus remembered at Tuskegee ceremony

 HOUSTON – (Feb. 25, 2014) – As Black History Month comes to a close, Rice University is highlighting the late alumnus Noel Parrish, who is credited with making it possible for blacks to serve as aviators in the U.S. armed forces when he was a colonel.

Rice News traveled to Tuskegee, Ala., to interview surviving members of the Tuskegee Airmen and representatives of Moton Field, where the Airmen’s World War II base was located.

Nearly a dozen of the original Tuskegee Airmen returned to the base Feb. 15 to dedicate the newly renovated national historic site, greet surviving comrades in arms and reflect on those who supported their double victory: over the enemy in World War II and over the prejudice they fought in the country they swore to defend.

Parrish was one of the people they acknowledged. Two days before Pearl Harbor, on Dec. 5, 1941, Parrish became the director of training at the Tuskegee Army Flying School. A year later, in December 1942, he was promoted to base commander.

Parrish broke down racial barriers and succeeded when many thought the project would never get off the ground. “The Tuskegee experiment was an experiment that was meant to fail,” said retired Brig. Gen. Leon Johnson, national president of the Tuskegee Airmen Inc.

After World War II, Parrish continued to advance both in the U.S. military and academically, eventually earning the rank of brigadier general. He died in 1987.

To read the complete Rice News story, go to http://news.rice.edu/2014/02/24/rice-alum-noel-parrish-the-wind-beneath-their-wings/.

For more information or to interview Rice Centennial Historian Melissa Kean, contact David Ruth, director of national media relations at Rice, at david@rice.edu or 713-348-6327.

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Located on a 300-acre forested campus in Houston, Rice University is consistently ranked among the nation’s top 20 universities by U.S. News & World Report. Rice has highly respected schools of Architecture, Business, Continuing Studies, Engineering, Humanities, Music, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences and is home to the Baker Institute for Public Policy. With 3,920 undergraduates and 2,567 graduate students, Rice’s undergraduate student-to-faculty ratio is 6.3-to-1. Its residential college system builds close-knit communities and lifelong friendships, just one reason why Rice has been ranked No. 1 for best quality of life multiple times by the Princeton Review and No. 2 for “best value” among private universities by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance. To read “What they’re saying about Rice,” go to http://tinyurl.com/AboutRiceU.

About David Ruth

David Ruth is director of national media relations in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.