On Saturday morning June 18, friends, family as well as elected officials gathered at the American Legion Post in Amagansett to prepare to “Walk in the Path of an American Hero” in honor of local hero, Tuskegee Airman Lee Archer Hayes. Retracing the route of Lee Hayes’s daily walk those present to celebrate Hayes’ legacy walked to the youth park named in his honor. The African American military pilots known as the Tuskegee Airmen broke the color barrier as they shattered long-standing stereotypes about black military officers. Lt. Hayes was a leader among this elite fighting squad.

Leading the walk was the Long Island Tuskegee Motor Club. Speakers, including Congresswoman Stacey Plaskett, EH Town Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc, Reverend Walter Silva Thompson, Lee’s niece Audrey Gaines, Jolyn Hopson, Rodney Hillman, spoke optimistically about racial unity in America as they addressed the two-year delay in spreading the word that slavery had officially ended. June 18th would have been Lt. Hayes’s 100th birthday.

All photos © Richard Lewin