In 1949, a concert held by Black entertainer and activist Paul Robeson in Peekskill, New York to benefit the Civil Rights Congress resulted in the Peekskill riots.

Eugene Jacques Bullard (October 9, 1895 – October 12, 1961), born Eugene James Bullard, was the first African-American military pilot. Bullard received 15 decorations from the government of France.

The 2006 movie Flyboys loosely portrayed Bullard and his comrades in World War I. Edmund L. Gros, who facilitated the incorporation of American pilots in the French Air Service, listed in the October 1917 issue of Flying, an official publication of the Aero Club of America, Bullard's name is on the member roster of the Lafayette Flying Corps. [33], In 1989 he was posthumously inducted into the inaugural class of the Georgia Aviation Hall of Fame.

[30][10] When World War II began in September 1939, Bullard, who also spoke German, agreed to a request from the French government to spy on the German citizens who still frequented his nightclub. Before Robeson arrived, however, a mob attacked the concert-goers with baseball bats and stones. Bullard spent some time in a New York hospital and never fully recovered from his wound.

On October 19, 1914, Bullard enlisted and was assigned to the 3rd Marching Regiment of the Foreign Legion (R.M.L.E.

[11][13] Like many other American aviators, Bullard hoped to join the famous squadron Escadrille Americaine N.124, the Lafayette Escadrille, but after enrolling 38 American pilots in the spring and summer of 1916, it stopped accepting applicants.

Between the world wars he owned and managed nightclubs in the Montmartre section of Paris, where he emerged as a leading personality among such African American entertainers as Josephine Baker, Louis Armstrong, and Sidney Bechet. [14][19] After his discharge, Bullard returned again to Paris. In the 1950s, Bullard was a relative stranger in his own homeland.

[30][10] When World War II began in September 1939, Bullard, who also spoke German, agreed to a request from the French government to spy on the German citizens who still frequented his nightclub. Graphic pictures of Bullard being beaten by two policemen, a state trooper, and a concert goer were published in Susan Robeson's biography of her grandfather, The Whole World in His Hands: a Pictorial Biography of Paul Robeson.[31]. The attack was captured on film and can be seen in the 1970s documentary The Tallest Tree in Our Forest and the Oscar-winning documentary narrated by Sidney Poitier, Paul Robeson: Tribute to an Artist. Bullard's service record also includes Squadron N.85 (French: Escadrille SPA 85), September 13, 1917 – November 11, 1917, which had a bull insignia.

[13][14] He was assigned to the 3rd Marching Regiment of the 1st Foreign Regiment. Sloan, James J. Wings of Honor, American Airmen in World War I: A Compilation of All United States Pilots, Observers, Gunners and Mechanics Who Flew against the Enemy in the War of 1914–1918.

During his convalescence, Bullard was cited for acts of valor at the orders of the regiment on July 3, 1917, and was awarded the croix de guerre.

Bullard in his later years, wearing on his shoulder the croix de guerre, Bullard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Paris, 1954, Bullard in his Legionnaire uniform, between 1914 and 1917, Bullard in 1917 beside a Nieuport while with Escadrille 93, Bullard exhibit at the National Museum of the United States Air Force.

Bullard went through the medical examination, but he was not accepted, as only white pilots were chosen. He continued to box in Paris and also worked in a music hall until the start of World War I. His father was from Martinique and spoke French as his first language. [29] As a popular jazz venue, "Le Grand Duc" gained him many famous friends, including Josephine Baker, Louis Armstrong, Langston Hughes, and French flying ace Charles Nungesser.

Bullard was a student at the 28th Street School in Columbus from 1901 to 1906, completing the 5th Grade. By 1915, Bullard was a machine gunner and saw combat on the Somme front in Picardy. [39], In the 2012 movie Red Tails, the fictional Col. A.J. Web.

New York: Garland Pub, 1995, p. 110.

[29] Around 1928, Bullard was able to buy "Le Grand Duc" from Ada Louise Smith.

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