From airman to activist: the life of Dr. Lincoln Ragsdale Sr.

Valley 101 show

Summary: In May 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously decided that separating educational facilities by race was unconstitutional under the 14th Amendment. You’ll know this famous case as Brown vs. The Board of Education. One year earlier, in February 1953, Judge Fred Struckmeyer Jr. in Maricopa County ruled that a law permitting students to be separated by race in the Phoenix Union school district was also unconstitutional. The court challenge came from a handful of civil rights activists in Phoenix, but one man in particular looked at this as the tip of the iceberg. Dr. Lincoln Ragsdale Sr. helped fund a lawsuit on behalf of three Black children during the Phoenix Union case, but his time fighting for racial freedoms in the Valley spread much further than high schools. He was a Tuskegee airman, a business owner, a fighter for civil rights and the man whose name is on the executive terminal at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. This is the first part of a two-part series on the local icon. The second part will be released on Monday, Feb. 28.