Lonely Eagle, Oct 2007
Mr. Matthew Plummer
San Antonio, Texas to a former slave, Matthew William Plummer of
Summerville, Tennessee and Minnie Lee Wilson, a native Texan.
He was a student in the public schools of San Antonio, Texas
where he graduated from Phyllis Wheatley High School. At the age
of 17, he entered Tuskegee Institute Trade School as a
photographer, earning a certificate in 1939. Following his passion
for flying, he began training as an aviator at Tuskegee.
Shortly afterwards, the United States Air Corp located the first
military flight training program for African-Americans at Tuskegee
where he became a flight instructor at the Tuskegee Army Airfield.
He trained many of the famous Tuskegee Airmen combat pilots of
the 99th Fighter Squadron. The Tuskegee Airmen saw action in
North Africa and Europe during World War II.
While at Tuskegee, he was very active in civic activities. He served
as president of the Tuskegee Civic Club and was one of the
founding members of the Tuskegee Branch of the NAACP in 1945.
At the conclusion of the war; he obtained a Bachelor of Arts
Degree in elementary education in 1949. Later that year, he
returned to Houston and enrolled in the newly opened law school at
the Texas College for Negro Students - currently known as Texas
Southern University's Thurgood Marshall School of Law. He
graduated in its first class of five students in1952.
Following admission to the Texas State Bar, he became the first
African-American employed as an investigator for the Harris County
District Attorney's office in 1953. After attempting to integrate the
Harris County courthouse cafeteria in 1953, and the consternation
created by the act, here signed from the DA's office and entered
private practice specializing in real estate and probate matters until
Judge Plummer was extremely active in the political and civic
activities of Houston for over 47 years. He was a founder of the
Houston Lawyers Association, the first organized Bar Association
for African-American lawyers in Houston; founding member of the
Harris County Council of Voters, Texas Council of Voters, the
Texas Landowners Association (an organization that sought to
stem the loss of rural land, owned by African-Americans across the
South), the Bronze Eagles Flying Club (a group of African-
American aviators who enjoyed flying as recreation).
He served in leadership roles of many other local, state and
national organizations including the NAACP Houston Chapter and
the National Bar Association. Judge Plummer was appointed by
Governor Mark White to the133rd Civil District in 1986.
Other than being proud, supportive, and providing wise advice to
his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, Judge
Plummer was especially pleased to have been selected as a
special representative of the National Bar Association to meet with
President Lyndon B. Johnson to witness the President's desire to
name Thurgood Marshall to the United States Supreme Court, and
to have served as counsel for Muhammed Ali (one of the Greatest
Boxers of all time) in regards to his United States Military draft case.
In March of 2007, Judge Plummer attended the Congressional Gold
Medal Award Ceremony in Washington D.C. where he was among
the surviving Tuskegee Airmen presented with the Congressional
Medal of Honor in recognition of their service to the country.
Honored by this belated recognition, he commented “Little did I
realize, when I arrived at Tuskegee at 17 years old, I would have a
chance to make a small, but significant contribution to the country.”