PRINCE GEORGE’s COUNTY, Md. (WJZ)–A Marylander devoted to civil rights has died. Leroy Battle was instrumental in desegregating the U.S. military and integrating Prince George’s County classrooms.
Pat Warren reports.
Leroy Battle paved the way for equality and responsibility in the military and as an educator.
This was a celebration of the life of Leroy Boots Battle, who died at age 93.
Battle was a Tuskegee Airman during World War II who became a hero off the battlefield for refusing to be denied admission to a whites-only officers club where even German POW’s were allowed.
“We weren’t wanted there but we said we were going to go there anyway, and we said we were going to go in and they said we couldn’t go in.”
It was 10 years before Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott and Dr. King, but it prompted the executive order signed by Harry S. Truman desegregating the armed forces.
Jazz also defined Battle’s life. He was a drummer who played with jazz greats, integrated the Redskins Band, earned a master’s degree at the University of Maryland, founded a high school music program before integration of Prince George’s County schools, and after desegregation fought for education equality.
He was also a music mentor and guidance counselor until he retired in the 1980s.
His lifelong motto came from the Tuskegee airmen, “Stay focused, stick with it, get it done.”
After 93 years, his mission is accomplished. Battle was an educator at Douglas High School in Upper Marlboro.