Synchronize with the table of contents  INTRODUCTION

INTRODUCTION :

PROVENANCE:

Omar Blair donated his papers from 1974 to 2004. Funding for processing provided by an Institute of Museum and Library Services National Leadership Grant.

ACCESS:

The collection is open for research.

OWNERSHIP:

The Omar Blair Papers are the physical property of the Denver Public Library.

PUBLICATION RIGHTS:

All requests for permission to publish, reproduce, or quote from material in the collection should be discussed with the appropriate librarian or archivist. Permission for publication may be given on behalf of the Denver Public Library as the owner of the physical item. It is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which also must be obtained by the customer. The Library does not assume any responsibility for infringement of copyright or publication rights of the manuscript held by the writer, heirs, donors, or executors. Reproduction restrictions are decided on a case-by-case basis.

PREFERRED CITATION:

[Identification of item], Omar Blair Papers, ARL3, Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library, The Denver Public Library.

SIZE:

Number of Boxes: 2 (2 lf)

Audio-Visual: 1 AVBox

Oversize: 1 OVFolio, 1 OVFF

Display: 9 items

LOCATION:

ARL3

PROCESSED AND ENCODED BY:

Ann Brown

November 2008

PROJECT MANAGER:

Ellen Zazzarino

BIOGRAPHICAL NOTE :

Omar D. Blair was born on July 16, 1918 in Houston, Texas, the only child of Omar O. Blair and Lillian Ballard Blair. He attended public schools in Denver, Colorado; Albuquerque, New Mexico; and Phoenix, Arizona, respectively. Blair graduated from high school in Albuquerque where he, along with five African American classmates, was compelled to sit in the back at the ceremony. After graduation, Blair attended the University of California, Los Angeles.

In April 1941, Blair enlisted in the Army Air Corp. He went to Tuskegee, Alabama, where he joined a group later known as the "Tuskegee Airmen." Serving in Italy, Blair became known as the "Great Train Robber" for his organization of a convoy to stop an Army supply train in order to take the large fuel tanks that his flight group needed to provide long-range fighter air support for bombers.

After the war, Blair worked with his father in Albuquerque in the family dry-cleaning business. In 1951, he moved to Denver and. from 1951 to 1969, worked at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal. In 1970, Blair became the Equal Opportunity Officer at the Air Force Finance and Account Center at Lowry Air Force Base. He retired in 1985 as a Major in the Air Force.

During and after his career, Blair served on numerous community service boards in Denver and throughout Colorado. From 1968 to 1978 he was a member of the Denver Urban Renewal Authority and helped initiate the building of the 16th-Street Mall. In 1973 he was elected to the Denver Board of Education where he served for twelve years, retiring in 1985. Blair was vice-president of the Board for two years and served as the first African American President from 1977 through 1981. Court-ordered integration of Denver Public Schools occurred during Blair's tenure on the Board.

Blair received numerous awards including a Colorado award for his work in the Equal Employment Opportunity program in 1975, an honorary doctorate from Metropolitan State College in 1984 and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Business Social Responsibility Award in 2001. In 2003, Denver's Blair-Caldwell Library was dedicated to Blair and to Elvin Caldwell who was a longtime City Councilman and manager of Denver's Department of Safety. In 2004, an Edison charter school in Denver was named the Omar D. Blair School.

During World War II, Blair married Andrea J. Winston. They were later divorced and he married Jeweldine. They had three children, Deborah, Omar and Patricia. Blair died March 25, 2004, in Denver.

SCOPE AND CONTENT NOTE :

This collection contains correspondence, business papers, photographs and memorabilia that belonged to Blair.

SELECTION OF RELATED MATERIAL :

The Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library has additional collections with material related to Omar Blair, including:

Related Material :

Spirit at the Mountaintop Documentary, [DVD, VHS]. 2002 ARL132

SERIES 1 PROFESSIONAL PAPERS 1944-1981 BOX 1 :

Articles, correspondence, meeting minutes, reports and newspaper clippings comprise this series. The papers document Blair's career as a Tuskegee Airman and his tenure on the Denver Board of Education. The Board of Education papers include documents related to the court-ordered busing that integrated Denver Public Schools.

SERIES 2 PERSONAL PAPERS 1939-2004 BOX 1 :

Blair's personal papers consist of correspondence from his friends and two scrapbooks. Photographs and programs comprise the first scrapbook, dedicated to the celebration of the first national Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday. The second scrapbook contains obituaries and photographs of Blair's family and friends. A few materials in this series are Blair's funeral program and posthumous tributes from the Colorado legislature and the U.S. Congress.

SERIES 3 PHOTOGRAPHS 2003, N.D., BOX 1 :

Color photographs of Blair and his family comprise a portion of this series, along with photographs of an unknown woman, presumably an ancestor.

SERIES 4 AUDIOVISUAL 1986-2004 AVBOX 3 :

With the exception of one DVD, videotapes comprise this series. Most document Blair's career as a Tuskegee Airman with mention and interviews in programs about the famous airmen. A few videotapes document Blair's funeral service.

SERIES 5 EPHEMERA 1975-1989 BOX 2 :

This series contains trophies, plaques and framed certificates awarded to Blair in recognition of his services to the community. Several awards commemorate his service during World War II as a Tuskegee Airman.

SERIES 6 OVERSIZE 1980-1997 OVFF 1, OVFOLIO 1 :

This series contains prints, certificates and awards.

SERIES 7 PERMANENT ITEMS DISPLAY 1944, 1987, N.D. :

The nine items in this series remain on permanent display in cases and on the walls throughout Blair-Caldwell Library.

SUBJECT ACCESS :

: SUBJECT ACCESS - :

  • Blair, Omar -- Archives.
  • United States. -- Army Air Forces. -- Fighter Group, 332nd -- Archival resources.
  • aUnited States. -- Air Force - African Americans -- History.
  • Denver (Colo.). -- Board of Education.
  • African Americans -- Colorado -- Denver.
  • School boards -- African American membership -- Colorado -- Denver.
  • Tuskegee Army Air Field (Ala.)

CONTAINER LIST