CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Charles T. Ledbetter will present “The West Virginia State College Aviation Program: The Tuskegee Airmen Connection in the Experiment” on Tuesday, April 2, in the Archives and History Library at the Culture Center, State Capitol Complex in Charleston. The program will begin at 6 p.m. and is free and open to the public.

Ledbetter will explain how West Virginia State College (WVSC), now University, was able to get the first aviation program awarded to an all-black college, and how three administrators were key figures in the acquisition of the program. He will discuss the leaders involved in the program; the strategy used in the application process; the competition among the all-black colleges; the challenges to the success of the program; how women figured into the program; the impact of Charleston’s airport on getting and losing the aviation program; and the Tuskegee Airmen’s connection to the program.

Most historians credit the heroic deeds of the Tuskegee Airmen with playing a major role in ending African-Americans’ struggle for the right to fight for their country and the segregation of the military.

Born in Muskogee, Okla., Ledbetter holds an undergraduate degree from Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Mo., a master’s degree from Golden Gate University in San Francisco, Calif., and a Ph.D. from Kent State University in Kent, Ohio. He retired as a lieutenant colonel after a 20-year career in the U.S. Army, and spent almost 30 years at West Virginia State University where he retired as professor emeritus in education. Ledbetter has published several articles and written three books, including his award winning two-volume set, Alliance Against the Odds: The Manual Training High School Story. A fourth book is set for publication this summer.

On April 2, the library will close at 5 p.m. and reopen at 5:45 p.m. for participants only. For planning purposes, participants are encouraged to register for the lecture, but advance registration is not required to attend. To register in advance, contact Bobby Taylor, library manager, at or at (304) 558-0230, ext. 163.

Participants interested in registering by e-mail should send their name, telephone number and the name and date of the session. For additional information, contact the Archives and History Library at (304) 558-0230.

The West Virginia Division of Culture and History is an agency within the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts with Kay Goodwin, Cabinet Secretary. The Division, led by Commissioner Randall Reid-Smith, brings together the past, present and future through programs and services focusing on archives and history, arts, historic preservation and museums. For more information about the Division’s programs, events and sites, visit The Division of Culture and History is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.

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