Tuskegee Airmen Tribute

This blog provides background and context to the Tuskegee Airmen Tribute, which features Sally-Ann Roberts as guest speaker.

Sally-Ann Roberts taught me the essence of friendship. She did this through simple acts of kindness that were unexpected and random.  Her actions flipped us from down on our luck to back on our feet.

After raging floodwaters destroyed our home and everything in it, my husband and I were forced to rebuild our lives. This was in 1995, long before the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.  We lived in uptown New Orleans on South Galvez Street, a quiet neighborhood with lovely homes. Unfortunately, our street was at the bottom of a slight hill. Rain would naturally flow down the sloping black top road and due to poor drainage, this created a stagnation nightmare.  Our home was a ranch style, one-story structure that water could easily seep into. So, when it rained, we cringed.

In May 1995, heavy rain drenched the city and we had four feet of standing water inside our house. Along with everything else we owned, our clothes were ruined. Talk about bad timing. We previously had been awarded the public relations contract for the Essence Music Festival. With no clothes, we felt paralyzed.  As I  prayed for Divine intervention, an angel rang the doorbell. It was Sally-Ann Roberts with gifts that allowed me to instantly rebuild my wardrobe. This also invigorated my confidence. Without missing a beat, our public relations company continued to thrive. Our lives had been disrupted for a hot minute but we got back on track. We eventually grew into a powerhouse agency with talented employees, a spacious office building and an amazing roster of clients. It’s hard to imagine what life would have been like if  Sally-Ann had not driven across town for her Good Samaritan visits.

Countless people have similar stories involving Sally-Ann. She truly has a heart of gold.

I was by her side when she founded Each One Save One, a mentoring organization established to help struggling children connect with caring adults.

In 2012, Sally-Ann donated bone marrow to her sister, Robin Roberts, anchor of Good Morning America. This surgery saved Robin’s life and also raised national awareness concerning the need for bone marrow donors.

Sally-Ann and I were both on television in New Orleans. We were broadcast journalists who delivered news on rival TV stations. I left to become Noah’s wife and business partner. She stayed, retiring in February 2018 after 40 years at WWL-TV. Her departure triggered an outpouring of well-deserved respect. As a newswoman, she was the consummate professional yet she found a way to also be uplifting. She hosted the Saturday morning teen talk show Our Generation, highlighting positive work done by local high school students and giving teenagers a platform for their issues and interests. She also produced Quiet Heroes, a segment providing an in-depth look at volunteer work around the community.

Compassion, empathy and humanitarian service are among the many qualities she learned from her parents—Lucimarian Tolliver Roberts and Lawrence Roberts. Her father was a Tuskegee Airman who rose to the rank of colonel in the Air Force. He died in 2004 but his legacy survives through his achievements and his children.

We will hear how her father was shaped by his Tuskegee Airmen experience and how those values were passed down to the next generation of his family at “A Tribute to the Tuskegee Airmen” scheduled for Thursday, June 7, 2018.

While everyone else will welcome her as the guest speaker, I will savor sweet memories of my dear friend and cherish this chance to reconnect.