PENSACOLA, Fla. (WEAR) — Martin Luther King Jr. inspired many people to never give up on their dreams, including one Pensacola man who has made major accomplishments in his life.
“I was five years old when I told him [my father] I wanted to be a Blue Angel. He said two things to me. He said, ‘stay in school and stay out of trouble’ and to this day I still think about the foundation of what brought me here today,” said Keith Hoskins.
Hoskins was the first African-American to become a commanding officer at NAS Pensacola.
“I think it was a big deal. You know, not only was I the first African-American, I was also the first Blue Angel to return back to our naval station in Pensacola as a commanding officer,” he explained.
Hoskins followed in his father’s footsteps. His dad served for nearly 40 years during a time that wasn’t so promising for an African-American pilot.
“He served during a tumultuous time of our country. You know it’s part of our history. There was some inequality during those times back in the 50s when he served. He couldn’t become a pilot as easily as it was for me to become a pilot, because now, obviously, there’s a shift,” said Hoskins.
Hoskins said that progress was made possible by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
“Because of Martin Luther King and because of other civil leaders in our nation, this country has moved forward where now there’s more equality of different races, sexes, genders and so forth that now can serve our military and serve in different capacities,” said Hoskins.
Hoskins told Channel 3 that because of the fight for equality and his father’s advice, his dreams were made possible. He looks back on his days as a Blue Angel and smiles. He called those three years a very humbling.
“You bare that responsibility now representing the United States Naval Service. You definitely walk just a little bit taller and with a bigger smile on your face because you’re just so full of pride,” he said.
His advice to anyone with a dream is just like what his father told him.
“He said, ‘stay in school and stay out of trouble.’ America’s a great place to be, it doesn’t matter who you are and where you come from or what you look like,” said Hoskins.