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Dabney N. Montgomery

Tuskegee Airman Dabney N. Montgomery was born on April 18, 1923 in Selma, Alabama to Lula Anderson Montgomery and Dred Montgomery. He attended the Alabama Lutheran Academy and then Selma University High School, graduating in 1941. After high school, he joined the U.S. Army and was sent for basic training at Keesler Field in Biloxi, Mississippi. After that, Montgomery was sent to Quartermaster Training School at Camp Lee, Virginia (outside of Petersburg), where he received special training in supplies.

In 1943, Montgomery of the 1051st Quartermaster Company of the 96th Air Service Group, attached to the 332nd Air Fighter Group was deployed to Italy. He served there until the end of World War II. In 1946, after returning to the United States, Montgomery entered Livingstone College in Salisbury, North Carolina. Montgomery became a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity and graduated with his B.A. degree in religious education in 1949. Between 1949 and 1950, he returned to Livingstone College and acquired thirty hours in economic study. He briefly studied economics at the University of Michigan and Wayne State University before going to Boston, Massachusetts, where he enrolled at the Boston Conservatory of Music, studying dance. Montgomery later studied dance with the New York City Metropolitan Opera Dance School before an injury forced him to end his career. In 1955, he began working for the city, first as a Social Service Investigator in the Department of Social Services and later for the Housing Authority. He retired in 1988.

Montgomery passed away on September 3, 2016.

Montgomery was heavily involved in the Civil Rights Movement. He participated in marches in New York City and in the 1963 March on Washington. In 1965, Montgomery was one of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s bodyguards on the historic Selma to Montgomery march.

Since his retirement, Montgomery has worked as a Social Outreach Worker for Project FIND, a non-profit organization assisting older adults on Manhattan’s West Side. Montgomery is also very active with Harlem’s Mother African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, which is the oldest organized black church in New York, founded in 1796. Montgomery is also active on the Parks Committee and Harlem’s Interfaith Committee of the Tenth Community Board of Manhattan.

Montgomery has been married to his wife, Amelia Montgomery, for thirty-seven years (as of 2007). They have no children.

Montgomery was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on August 7, 2007.

Montgomery passed away on September 3, 2016.

Accession Number

A2007.226

Sex

Male

Interview Date

8/7/2007 |and| 2/5/2008

Last Name

Montgomery

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

M.

Schools

Selma University

Concordia College Alabama

Livingstone College

Metropolitan Opera Ballet School

Boston Conservatory at Berklee

University of Michigan

Wayne State University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Dabney

Birth City, State, Country

Selma

HM ID

MON06

Favorite Season

None

State

Alabama

Favorite Vacation Destination

Los Angeles, California

Favorite Quote

If You Have A Problem, Look At Your Feet. You May Be Standing On The Solution.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

4/18/1923

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Sweet Potatoes, Greens (Collard)

Death Date

9/3/2016

Short Description

City government employee, tuskegee airman, and civil rights activist Dabney N. Montgomery (1923 - 2016 ) was a social services investigator in the Department of Social Services and for the New York Housing Authority.

Employment

U.S. Army Air Corps

New York City Housing Authority

Amsterdam Welfare Center

Favorite Color

Red

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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Dabney N. Montgomery's interview, session 1

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Dabney N. Montgomery lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Dabney N. Montgomery describes his mother's family

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Dabney N. Montgomery describes his father's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Dabney N. Montgomery describes his father's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Dabney N. Montgomery describes his maternal grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Dabney N. Montgomery talks about his father's marriages

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Dabney N. Montgomery describes his half-brother, Joe Montgomery

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Dabney N. Montgomery describes his father's career

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Dabney N. Montgomery talks about his father's standing in his career

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Dabney N. Montgomery describes his brother, Mitchel Montgomery

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Dabney N. Montgomery talks about his sister, Fairrow Belle Montgomery Prewitt, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Dabney N. Montgomery talks about his sister, Fairrow Belle Montgomery Prewitt, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Dabney N. Montgomery describes his two youngest siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Dabney N. Montgomery remembers the Clinton Chapel A.M.E. Zion Church in Selma, Alabama

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Dabney N. Montgomery recalls his mother's death

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Dabney N. Montgomery remembers the holidays

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Dabney N. Montgomery describes his neighborhood in Selma, Alabama

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Dabney N. Montgomery remembers the black community in Selma, Alabama

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Dabney N. Montgomery describes his home life

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Dabney N. Montgomery describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Dabney N. Montgomery remembers the Alabama Lutheran Academy in Selma, Alabama

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Dabney N. Montgomery recalls his leadership at the Clinton Chapel A.M.E. Zion Church in Selma, Alabama

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Dabney N. Montgomery recalls attending high school at Selma University in Selma, Alabama

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Dabney N. Montgomery remembers the Clinton Chapel A.M.E. Zion Church in Selma, Alabama

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Dabney N. Montgomery recalls his decision to study religion

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Dabney N. Montgomery describes race relations in Selma, Alabama

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Dabney N. Montgomery recalls being drafted during World War II

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Dabney N. Montgomery describes his assignments in the U.S. Army Air Corps

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Dabney N. Montgomery remembers his colleagues in the U.S. Army Air Corps

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Dabney N. Montgomery describes his experiences on segregated trains

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Dabney N. Montgomery remembers the formation of the 332nd Fighter Group

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Dabney N. Montgomery recalls the Tuskegee Airmen

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Dabney N. Montgomery remembers serving as a chaplain to the Tuskegee Airmen

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Dabney N. Montgomery talks about his friends among the Tuskegee Airmen

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Dabney N. Montgomery describes the Claude B. Govan Tri-State Chapter of Tuskegee Airmen, Inc.

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Dabney N. Montgomery remembers the treatment of black soldiers in Europe

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Dabney N. Montgomery describes the missions of the 332nd Fighter Group

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Dabney N. Montgomery talks about the integration of the U.S. Army

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Dabney N. Montgomery talks about his Congressional Gold Medal

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Dabney N. Montgomery describes the end of World War II

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Dabney N. Montgomery recalls his return from the U.S. military to Selma, Alabama

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Dabney N. Montgomery remembers Livingstone College in Salisbury, North Carolina

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Dabney N. Montgomery remembers studying economics

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Dabney N. Montgomery remembers studying ballet at the Boston Conservatory of Music in Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Dabney N. Montgomery recalls meeting Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Dabney N. Montgomery talks about his brief engagement in Spain

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Dabney N. Montgomery recalls his return from New York City to Selma, Alabama

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Dabney N. Montgomery describes his first civil rights protest in Selma, Alabama

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Dabney N. Montgomery remembers the impact of the Selma to Montgomery March

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Dabney N. Montgomery narrates his photographs

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Slating of Dabney N. Montgomery's interview, session 2

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Dabney N. Montgomery describes the civil rights march on Washington, D.C. in 1957

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Dabney N. Montgomery remembers Paul Robeson

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Dabney N. Montgomery describes the influence of Dean John H. Satterwhite

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Dabney N. Montgomery remembers his father's friendship with A. Philip Randolph

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Dabney N. Montgomery remembers the March on Washington

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Dabney N. Montgomery talks about his decision to study economics

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Dabney N. Montgomery describes his experiences as an economics student

Tape: 8 Story: 9 - Dabney N. Montgomery recalls his ballet training at the Boston Conservatory of Music in Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 8 Story: 10 - Dabney N. Montgomery talks about his interest in black history

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Dabney N. Montgomery remembers traveling in North Africa

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Dabney N. Montgomery recalls reconnecting with his Spanish fiancee, pt. 1

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Dabney N. Montgomery recalls reconnecting with his Spanish fiancee, pt. 2

Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Dabney N. Montgomery remembers receiving a vision of angels

Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Dabney N. Montgomery describes his travels in Egypt

Tape: 9 Story: 6 - Dabney N. Montgomery describes his acquaintance wiht Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tape: 9 Story: 7 - Dabney N. Montgomery describes his start as an activist in Selma, Alabama

Tape: 10 Story: 1 - Dabney N. Montgomery remembers staying at a hotel in Selma, Alabama

Tape: 10 Story: 2 - Dabney N. Montgomery recalls speaking at the Clinton Chapel A.M.E. Zion Church in Selma, Alabama

Tape: 10 Story: 3 - Dabney N. Montgomery recalls drinking from a white water fountain in Selma, Alabama

Tape: 10 Story: 4 - Dabney N. Montgomery remembers his decision to join the second Selma to Montgomery March

Tape: 10 Story: 5 - Dabney N. Montgomery recalls his arrival at the second Selma to Montgomery March

Tape: 10 Story: 6 - Dabney N. Montgomery describes the second Selma to Montgomery March

Tape: 10 Story: 7 - Dabney N. Montgomery recalls his sister's role in the Selma to Montgomery March

Tape: 11 Story: 1 - Dabney N. Montgomery talks about the decision to remain nonviolent during the second Selma to Montgomery March

Tape: 11 Story: 2 - Dabney N. Montgomery recalls his experiences during the second Selma to Montgomery March

Tape: 11 Story: 3 - Dabney N. Montgomery reflects upon his life

Tape: 11 Story: 4 - Dabney N. Montgomery remembers the Harlem community in New York City

Tape: 11 Story: 5 - Dabney N. Montgomery describes the changes in New York City's Harlem neighborhood

Tape: 11 Story: 6 - Dabney N. Montgomery talks about the history of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion church

Tape: 11 Story: 7 - Dabney N. Montgomery describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 11 Story: 8 - Dabney N. Montgomery reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 11 Story: 9 - Dabney N. Montgomery remembers joining the Tuskegee Airman, Inc.

Tape: 11 Story: 10 - Dabney N. Montgomery talks about his membership at the Mother Zion A.M.E. Church in New York City

Tape: 11 Story: 11 - Dabney N. Montgomery remembers meeting his wife, pt. 1

Tape: 12 Story: 1 - Dabney N. Montgomery remembers meeting his wife, pt. 2

Tape: 12 Story: 2 - Dabney N. Montgomery describes the Tuskegee Airmen, Inc. organization

Tape: 12 Story: 3 - Dabney N. Montgomery talks about his great-grandfather's U.S. military service

Tape: 12 Story: 4 - Dabney N. Montgomery describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 12 Story: 5 - Dabney N. Montgomery shares his memorabilia from the Selma to Montgomery March

DASession

1$2

DATape

4$10

DAStory

7$3

DATitle
Dabney N. Montgomery remembers serving as a chaplain to the Tuskegee Airmen
Dabney N. Montgomery recalls drinking from a white water fountain in Selma, Alabama
Transcript
You see, what we did [as part of the 1051st Quartermaster Service Group Aviation Company], were to supply food and clothing, and that was it. We, we didn't have--for example, a chaplain of 332nd [332nd Fighter Group; 332nd Expeditionary Operations Group], because we were--we dealt with food and clothing. We needed a warehouse made out of brick. And they put us in brick warehouses, and we worked out of these warehouses. We tried tents, but tents would not do it. So we worked out of a brick environment. And because we worked out of a brick environment, we were isolated from the airfield. They had to come to us, and the chaplain seldom came to us. So I started, you know what? A Sunday school class, and every Sunday morning I would have service through my Sunday school class. I kept up with it a little bit too. And the lieutenant came to me one day and said, "You know, we haven't had communion in a long time. Since you teach Sunday school here, can you give us communion?" Well, I thought about it. I'm not a preacher, and I had no authority to give communion, to bless communion. However, in an isolated situation where there is no preacher, and I'm the one teaching Sunday school, I think that I also have the authority to give communion if the men want it. And on those grounds, I'll give you communion. And for the first time in my life, I went out and bought wine, went out and bought wine. And I knew the rituals. I came back, had the cook to cook me some bread that was without salt, broke it up, and had prayer over this. And then I served it to them, and we had communion (laughter). Maybe they'll put me in jail for being a preacher without license (laughter).$I went to the bus station which was three blocks or more away from the church, Clinton Chapel A.M.E. Zion Church [Selma, Alabama]. It was closed, locked, I couldn't go in there, but there was a Carter drugstore [Carter Drug Co.] on Broad Street [Selma, Alabama] that a good number of young white men just hung out there and I said, "I'll go there and sit at the counter and ask for ice cream, a Coke [Coca-Cola] or something and wouldn't move." I went there and they were closed. Okay. They're closed, I'll go to the jailhouse, the police headquarters, and that's where I went, to the police headquarters and asked to speak to the police in charge. And he came out with two other police, and I told them, "Sir, my name is Dabney Montgomery [HistoryMaker Dabney N. Montgomery]. I had come here to break segregated laws because it's wrong and it is the will of God that these laws be erased." And there was a fountain for white people only, for color peopled only, another fountain, I went and drank out of that fountain for white people only. He stood right there and said, "This man must be crazy," (laughter). "Take him out." Two cops came, grabbed me by the arm and took me out. I landed on the curb of the street at the jail. That's all. To show you how dangerous this was when the King's [Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.] movement came to Selma [Alabama], two white men ate at a black restaurant two blocks from that jail and both of them were shot, one was killed.$$Two--$$One died from the wound. Two white men--$$Two white men ate at a black restaurant?$$At a black res--$$Okay.$$Two black from that jail and one was killed, the other received the shots. And I thought at the time that SNCC [Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee] was there. I went to a SNCC movement when King movement was there and they said, "Look, never go out alone and break a segregated law (unclear) and never go at night if you're with a group of people, don't go at night." And there I was at night and alone and the angels of the Lord protected me. Well, as I sat on that curb, a black fellow in an automobile came by and said, "What are you doing out here, son? You don't see people sitting on the curb at night, not in Selma. What can I do for you?" "You can take me home." "Where you live?" "Corner, corner of Green Street and 1st Avenue." So he took me in his car home. When we arrived in front of my house, I noticed a few cars parked out in front of the house and the lights on in the house. All those people in the church had gone to my father's house and told them that Dab is in town breaking segregated laws (laughter). I knocked on the door, my father [Dred Montgomery] came to the door, the old man. "There he is." He opened the door and fell on the knees. They had told him about the experience. "Son, whatever you do, don't do it again. They'll come out and burn the house down; they might kill you, they might kill--we don't know what will happen. Please, son," down on his knee. I never had seen my father on his knees before and he was a fireman for forty years on the Southern railroad [Southern Railway]. Strong man. And I listened to him, and the people all left and words got out that Dab was in town and he was mentally deranged, a little crazy. My father get in a car and he goes up to the police office and tell them that my son is World War II [WWII] veteran and he is shell shocked. He is in town now, don't pay him any attention because he's shell shocked. The police went, "Yeah, that boy was up here. We knew something was wrong with his brain." That's why, for that reason, they didn't whatever they had planned to do.