Seventh Avenue Heritage Festival organizer Kabir Karriem said this year’s festival will honor Columbus native and Tuskegee Airman Alva Temple. The festival begins Friday, October 4 at 5:30 p.m. and concludes Saturday night.
“We are going to get things going Friday night around 5:30 with a DJ and a band,” Karriem said. “On Saturday, we will start around 10. At 11:30, we will begin a ceremony to honor the great Alva Temple, who was a native of Columbus and one of the Tuskegee Airmen.”
Temple was born Sept. 5, 1917, in rural Carrollton, Ala. Before the war, he majored in agriculture at Alabama A&M University. He moved to Mississippi in the 1950s and ran a gas station on Highway 69 in Columbus. He remained in Columbus until his death at age 86 in 2004.
Temple completed 120 missions during World War II. He served in Italy, southern France and the Balkan nations as member of the Tuskegee Airmen, the first black pilots to fly in combat during WWII.
“Mr. Temple won the Top Gun award in May of 1949, but because of the racial politics of the time, he didn’t actually receive it until 1996,” Karriem said.
Karriem said Temple will be honored with a gospel choir and a flyover at 12:15 from a replica of Temple’s P-40 Mustang, among other aircraft. The Columbus High School Band will perform during the ceremony. Karriem said Temple’s family is expected to participate in the event.
“You can’t think of the Tuskegee Airmen and not mention Alva Temple,” Karriem said. “He was a very humble man who was instrumental up a lot of scholarships for students and helped a lot of minority small business owners. This is a way for us to honor his legacy and what he meant to the community.”