Who was Leroy Wilton Homer Jr.?

Recently, the USA commemorated the 10th anniversary of the tragic series of events that transpired on September 11th, 2001. At some point in the future, some people might review contemporary media accounts and question the impact of “9-11” on African Americans; since mainstream media has focused on white families affected by the overall tragedy: much to the chagrin and dismay of many in the black community.

Some say we live in a post-racial society with the advent of Barack Obama’s ascendancy to the US presidency; but is that true?

Take the case of Leroy Wilton Homer Jnr. He was the black man who was the First Officer operating the flight that tragically fell in an act of terrorism on 9-11-2001. This plane was the fourth attacked that day.  It was heroically ditched in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, when the passengers decided to push back on the terrorists; risking and ultimately sacrificing their lives in the process. 

Homer was a native from Long Island, New York. He dreamed of flying as a child. He was only 15 years old when he started flight instruction in a Cessna 152. By the time he was 18, Homer had obtained his private pilot’s license. That same year, he joined the Air Force; and later became a second lieutenant. He served in Operations Desert Storm and Desert Shield; and later he flew support efforts in Somalia.

 During his tenure, Homer was named the 21st Air Force Air Crew Instructor of the Year. Homer also achieved the rank of captain before his honorable discharge from active duty in 1995. He later worked as a pilot for United Airlines.

For his actions on board Flight 93, Homer received many posthumous awards and citations, including honorary membership in the historic Tuskegee Airmen; the Congress of Racial Equality's Dr. Martin Luther King Jnr. Award; the SCLC Drum Major for Justice Award; and the Westchester County Trailblazer Award.

When one movie about UNITED FLIGHT 93 was shot, it appears that Homer was depicted by a Hispanic actor in the film. There have been other movies made about this flight, and it is likely more will be made in the future. Those folks responsible for casting should ensure that someone clearly Negroid be casted as the First Officer: it’s the right thing to do. The casts usually include actors depicting passengers, crew, flight controllers, relatives and the like portraying what transpired in their lives that day. In another movie about the flight, it appears that the First Oficer is white and the assistant pilot black.

When are movie-makers going to admit and accept that their racial-distortions are damaging to the psyche of blacks on this planet? Have we forgotten that Cleopatra was portrayed by a caucasian (Elizabeth Taylor) in a major movie distributed all over the world? When are the major studios going to accept responsibility for portraying historic events in an authentic manner? Especially when it involves blacks / Negroes/ Africans.  

Do note that Homer is survived by his wife (Melodie) and a daughter (Laurel). He is remembered as a soft-spoken, well-mannered man, with a permanent smile on his handsome face. He was one of nine kids (7 girls). He was well loved by people of all races, nationalities, creeds, religions and ethnicities. He is an inspiration to everyone on the rainbow of race and ethnicity.

Time magazine recently published “Beyond 9/11: Portraits of Resilience”: a photo-rich commemorative edition dedicated to the tenth anniversary. Check and see the number of identifiable African-Americans pictured in its 64 pages: very few.  There are still too many people in this country ostensibly unwilling to accept that racism has many forms. In history there are three kinds of sins: sins of commission; sins of omission; and sins of distortion.

Stay tuned-in folks.