In 2022, a Tuskegee Airman Was Honored
On Juneteenth in Amagansett
Friends, family and elected officials gathered at the American Legion Post in Amagansett to “Walk in the Path of an American Hero” on June 18, 2022 in honor of a local hero, Tuskegee Airman Lee Archer Hayes. Retracing the route of Hayes’s daily walk as a teenager, they celebrated his legacy by walking to the youth park named in his honor.
The African-American pilots known as the Tuskegee Airmen broke the color barrier by shattering long-standing stereotypes about Black military officers. Lt. Hayes was a leader in this elite fighting squad. His family had moved to East Hampton when he was just 8 years old, and his father, with the unfortunate name of Girlie Hayes, worked on the Griffing dairy farm in Amagansett.
Leading the walk was the Long Island Tuskegee Motor Club. Speakers, including Congresswoman Stacey Plaskett, Eest Hampton Town Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc, Reverend Walter Silva Thompson, Lee’s niece Audrey Gaines, Jolyn Hopson, and Rodney Hillman, spoke optimistically about racial unity in America as they addressed the history of Juneteeth, which marked the two-year delay in spreading the word that slavery had officially ended.
Last June 18th would have been Lt. Hayes’s 100th birthday. After his years of service (he never did see combat) he settled with his wife, who was born in Harlem, and raised a family in a house he built on Town Lane in East Hampton.