March 2009 -

The Hub

Tuskegee Airman Flying High

George Hickman
AP Images/Elaine Thompson

George Hickman, 84, watched from a mere 300 yards away as Barack Obama was sworn in as the country's first African American president Jan. 20 in Washington, D.C. Hickman was there, along with his grandson, by special invitation—from Obama himself.

"As soon as he started talking, the sun came out and you could feel the temperature rise. It was a beautiful sign," says Hickman, who has worked on the UW's sports events staff for more than 40 years and continues to serve as a game-day guard and part-time host at the Husky Legends Center.

Hickman, whose grandparents were all born into slavery, attended the swearing-in as one of the original Tuskegee Airmen, the country's first black military airmen, who served during World War II in the then-segregated armed forces. Obama has said his career in public service was made possible by "heroes like the Tuskegee Airmen."—Derek Belt