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Alexander Jefferson

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Information about Alexander Jefferson

Profile image of Alexander Jefferson

Profession

Category:
EducationMakers
Occupation(s):
Education Administrator

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Pork Chops (Fried)
Favorite Time of Year:
All Seasons
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Hawaii
Favorite Quote:
Everybody In The World Is Crazy Except You And Me, And Sometimes I'm Not So Sure About You.

Birthplace

Born:
11/15/1921
Birth Location:
Detroit, Michigan

Profession

Category:
EducationMakers
Occupation(s):
Education Administrator

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Pork Chops (Fried)
Favorite Time of Year:
All Seasons
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Hawaii
Favorite Quote:
Everybody In The World Is Crazy Except You And Me, And Sometimes I'm Not So Sure About You.

Birthplace

Born:
11/15/1921
Birth Location:
Detroit
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Biography

Alexander Jefferson was born on November 15, 1921, in Detroit Michigan, the first child of Alexander Jefferson and Jane White Jefferson. His great-grandfather William Jefferson White was born to a slave woman and a white slave owner in the 1830s. Jefferson’s grandfather became a minister, and in 1867, opened an all black school for boys in Augusta, Georgia, which trained its students exclusively for the ministry and pedagogy. Jefferson’s grandfather moved the school to Atlanta, Georgia, where the name changed from Atlanta Baptist Seminary to Atlanta Baptist College. Today, it is known as Morehouse College.

Jefferson grew up in a Polish neighborhood in Detroit, Michigan, and attended Craft Elementary School, Condon Intermediate School, and Chadsey High School. While in school, Jefferson spent most of his time in the biology and chemistry laboratories, at home reading from his mother’s extensive library, and building model airplanes. He graduated from Chadsey High School in 1938 as the only African-American to take college preparatory classes. Jefferson received his B.A. degree in 1942 from Clark College in Atlanta. On September 23, 1942, he was sworn into the United States Army Reserves. He volunteered for flight training but was not accepted immediately. In the mean time, Jefferson went to work as an analytical chemist for three months before entering graduate school at Howard University.

In April 1943, Jefferson received orders to report to Tuskegee Army Air Field to begin flight training. He graduated as a second lieutenant in January 1944 and was classified as a replacement pilot for the 332nd Fighter Group. Jefferson continued his training at Selfridge Army Air Field Base, where he was under the instruction of First Lieutenants Charles Dryden and Stan Watson, who had flown in combat in 1943 in North Africa with the all-Black 99th Fighter Squadron. In June 1944, Jefferson’s orders sent him to Ramitelli Air Base in Italy, where Colonel Benjamin O. Davis was the 332nd Fighter Group Commander. Jefferson flew eighteen missions before being shot down and captured on August 12, 1944. He spent eight months in the POW camp at Stalag Luft III., and was eventually freed on April 29, 1945.

Jefferson returned to civilian life in 1947, received his teaching certificate from Wayne State University, and began teaching elementary school science for the Detroit Public School System. Jefferson received his M.A. degree in education in 1954. He was appointed assistant principal in 1969 and served the Michigan School System for over 30 years. In 1995, Jefferson was enshrined in the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame. In 2001, he was awarded the Purple Heart, and in 2007, he received the Congressional Gold Medal. Jefferson is one of the founders of the Detroit and National chapters of the Tuskegee Airmen.

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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Alexander Jefferson's interview, session 1
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Alexander Jefferson lists his favorites, pt. 1
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Alexander Jefferson lists his favorites, pt. 2
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Alexander Jefferson describes his mother's family background, pt. 1
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Alexander Jefferson describes his mother's family background, pt. 2
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Alexander Jefferson describes his mother
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Alexander Jefferson describes his father's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Alexander Jefferson describes his sister
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Alexander Jefferson talks about his parents' influence on his childhood
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Alexander Jefferson describes his neighborhood in Detroit, Michigan
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Alexander Jefferson recalls his African American neighbors in Detroit, Michigan
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Alexander Jefferson describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Alexander Jefferson recalls his grade school experiences
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Alexander Jefferson talks about building model airplanes
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Alexander Jefferson remembers his high school experiences
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Alexander Jefferson describes the Scott Memorial United Methodist Church in Detroit, Michigan
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Alexander Jefferson recalls his decision to attend Clark University in Atlanta, Georgia
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Alexander Jefferson describes his experiences at Clark University
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Alexander Jefferson describes his training as a Tuskegee Airman
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Alexander Jefferson recalls lessons from his flight training in Tuskegee, Alabama
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Alexander Jefferson recalls his initial assignments in the U.S. Army Air Corps
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Alexander Jefferson recalls leaving the air base to visit Detroit, Michigan
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Alexander Jefferson recalls the racial confrontations at the Selfridge Army Air Base, pt. 1
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Alexander Jefferson recalls the racial confrontations at the Selfridge Army Air Base, pt. 2
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Alexander Jefferson describes his duties as an escort pilot
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Alexander Jefferson recalls his transfer to the Walterboro Army Airfield in South Carolina
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Alexander Jefferson talks about his overseas deployment during World War II
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Alexander Jefferson describes the flight maneuvers of the 332nd Fighter Group
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Alexander Jefferson remembers Benjamin O. Davis, Jr.
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Alexander Jefferson reflects upon the racial discrimination in the U.S. military
  • Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Alexander Jefferson remembers his role in Operation Dragoon
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Alexander Jefferson recalls the downing of his plane over France
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Alexander Jefferson recalls being taken prisoner by German troops, pt. 1
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Alexander Jefferson recalls being taken prisoner by German troops, pt. 2
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Alexander Jefferson reflects upon becoming a prisoner of war
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Alexander Jefferson describes his interrogation as a prisoner of war
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Alexander Jefferson recalls being transported to Stalag Luft III in Germany
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Alexander Jefferson recalls his experiences at the Stalag Luft III war prison
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Alexander Jefferson recalls escape attempts from Stalag Luft III
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Alexander Jefferson talks about daily life at the Stalag Luft III POW camp
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Alexander Jefferson recalls how black officers were treated in German POW camps
  • Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Alexander Jefferson recalls liberation day at Stalag VII-A
  • Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Alexander Jefferson talks about how the Germans ran POW camps in World War II
  • Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Alexander Jefferson recalls his treatment by white prisoners of war
  • Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Alexander Jefferson recalls the liberation of the German concentration camps
  • Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Alexander Jefferson recalls his return to the United States after World War II
  • Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Alexander Jefferson recalls his marriage and move to Detroit, Michigan
  • Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Alexander Jefferson remembers adjusting to civilian life
  • Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Alexander Jefferson describes his early teaching career
  • Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Alexander Jefferson recalls his decision to become a school administrator
  • Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Alexander Jefferson describes his civil rights activities
  • Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Alexander Jefferson talks about serving as an assistant principal
  • Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Alexander Jefferson reflects upon his career as an educator
  • Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Alexander Jefferson recalls founding the Tuskegee Airmen, Inc.
  • Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Alexander Jefferson remembers Detroit Mayor Coleman Young
  • Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Alexander Jefferson remembers General Daniel "Chappie" James, Jr.
  • Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Alexander Jefferson describes the purpose of the Tuskegee Airmen, Inc.
  • Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Alexander Jefferson remembers receiving the Congressional Gold Medal
  • Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Alexander Jefferson reflects upon the legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen
  • Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Alexander Jefferson reflects upon his legacy
  • Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Alexander Jefferson narrates his photographs
  • Tape: 10 Story: 1 - Slating of Alexander Jefferson's interview, session 2
  • Tape: 10 Story: 2 - Alexander Jefferson talks about his decision to join the Tuskegee Airmen
  • Tape: 10 Story: 3 - Alexander Jefferson recalls his trainee class at the Tuskegee Army Airfield
  • Tape: 10 Story: 4 - Alexander Jefferson describes the training program at the Tuskegee Army Airfield
  • Tape: 10 Story: 5 - Alexander Jefferson recalls his assignment to the Selfridge Army Air Base in Michigan
  • Tape: 10 Story: 6 - Alexander Jefferson remembers segregation at the Selfridge Army Air Base
  • Tape: 10 Story: 7 - Alexander Jefferson recalls the Walterboro Army Airfield in South Carolina
  • Tape: 10 Story: 8 - Alexander Jefferson recalls his flight missions in Europe during World War II
  • Tape: 11 Story: 1 - Alexander Jefferson recalls his fighter plane being shot down over France
  • Tape: 11 Story: 2 - Alexander Jefferson recalls his encounters with German officers
  • Tape: 11 Story: 3 - Alexander Jefferson remembers Stalag Luft III in Sagan, Germany
  • Tape: 11 Story: 4 - Alexander Jefferson talks about traveling in Europe after World War II
  • Tape: 11 Story: 5 - Alexander Jefferson describes the Tuskegee Airmen's reputation during World War II
  • Tape: 11 Story: 6 - Alexander Jefferson recalls the discrimination against black pilots during World War II
  • Tape: 11 Story: 7 - Alexander Jefferson recalls his pastimes at the Stalag Luft III war prison