It was quite eventful in Tuskegee last week with several major activities in addition to the normal events associated with Tuskegee University’s 2017 Homecoming.

As always, Homecoming was a huge event at TU with more than 25,000 spectators normally enjoying a victory at Abbott Memorial Stadium, home of the winningest HBCU football program in the country.

That has been especially true since the arrival of Willie Slater in 2007. The Golden Tigers have compiled a 108-29 record under Slater going into this Saturday’s showdown with Miles for the SAIC West Division championship.

Five times he has been SIAC Coach of the Year and once the National Coach of the Year by the Pigskin Club in Washington, D.C.

So, it’s not surprising that the Golden Tigers enjoyed a 45-0 homecoming win over Central State last Saturday.

It was also a good Friday, Oct. 27 for the Booker T. Washington High School Golden Eagles who closed out their 2017 home season with a 46-16 win over Chilton County on Senior Night.

A couple of days before (October 26) TU’s homecoming win there were two significant ceremonies involving those who had ties to Tuskegee.

The former law office of Attorney Jock Smith was dedicated as the new headquarters for the Tuskegee University Alumni Association and a portion of Alabama Highway 199 was named in memory of the late Pete Peterson.

Jock Smith died suddenly in 2012 from a heart attack. Known as an outstanding litigator who had an undergraduate degree from TU where he was the Student Government Association president. He went on to finish law school at Notre Dame.

Also known for his flamboyant dress, it was quite a day when his historic building office opened on North Main Street as famed attorney Johnnie Cochran was Smith’s guest. Cochran later formed the Cochran Group from the national firm of Cochran,Cherry, Givens and Smith.

The dedication of the Captain Joseph Pete Peterson Memorial Boulevard on Thursday afternoon was a long-time coming, thanks to the Tuskegee Institute High Class of 1964 that has pushed the idea of memorializing Peterson.

A graduate T.I.H.S., Peterson went on to earn his degree from Auburn University where he completed the Air Force ROTC program before being selected as second black pilot to be a member of the famed precision flying group, The Thunderbirds.

Unfortunately, Peterson and his fellow pilots died in a training incident in 1982 when he was only 32 years old.

Peterson learned to fly from the legendary “Chief” Alfred Anderson, the civilian flight instructor for the famed Tuskegee Airmen. Like the Airmen, Peterson was a pioneer as a black pilot.

It is only fitting that the portion of Highway 199 honoring Peterson is located adjacent to Moton Field where Peterson and the Tuskegee Airmen learned to fly.

It was a good week in Tuskegee and a special thanks goes to Karin Hopkins, a contributor to The Tuskegee News and founder of ECHOboom, for her coverage before and after the Peterson ceremony.

Guy Rhodes is editor and publisher of The Tuskegee News. He is a former recipient of the Distinguished Alabama Community Journalist Award and multi-time winner in the Alabama Press Association contest for Best Editorial Column or Commentary. He can be reached by email at

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