The Honorable George S. Lima, Tuskegee Airman, Civil Rights Activist, and Rhode Island State Representative, was born to Ana Morais Silva, native of Rabil, Boa Vista and Manuel Duarte Lima, native of Quemada, São Nicolão, Cabo Verde.
Mr Lima was one of eight children born in Massachusetts to the couple who arrived in the United States around 1900.
In 1939, George attended North Carolina A&T State University on a football scholarship where he met his wife of 55 years, Selma (Boone) Lima. It was during his time here that he learned to fly planes just in time to join the Tuskegee Airmen at the break of World War II. Lieutenant Lima was one of 60 black officers who risked court martial in 1945 protesting segregation at an officer’s club on an air base in Indiana. The facility was desegregated 3 years before President Truman ordered the desegregation of all US Armed Forces in 1948.
After the war, Mr Lima finished school at Brown University where continued to play football, study sociology, founded the University’s first chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity and eventually started a family in Rhode Island. An Ivy League degree in hand, Jim Crow and racial segregation could not keep Mr Lima from rising through the ranks of local AFL-CIO to eventually become the first Black Man to sit full-time on the State Workers Union.
President John F. Kennedy appointed him to head the New England branch of VISTA, a National Service program before becoming the President of the local NAACP of Providence in 1963 where he was instrumental in beginning the push for a fair housing bill which he would later pass while serving two terms as a Rhode Island State Representative.
After retirement, Mr Lima formed the Black Air Foundation, later named the George S. Lima Foundation, which aims to introduce minority youth to flying.
My cousin and filmmaker, Napoleon X
, turned Mr Lima’s life into a PBS documentary, “Black Men Can Fly: The Story of George S. Lima”. https://youtu.be/J6PsHQHWFpo
George S. Lima’s legacy continues through his children and the foundation in his name. He was inducted into the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame in 2012 and in 2014, the city of Providence named the George S. Lima, Sr Memorial Park.
If ya didn’t know… Now ya know!!!!