The Unrecognized First

Emory Malick, the first African-American pilot, wasn't known to historians until recently.

Mary Groce's detective work confirmed Emory Malick, her great-uncle, to be the first known African-American aviator. Emory's 1912 student photo. (Courtesy Malick Family Collection)
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In December 1958, when he was 77 years old, Malick slipped and fell on an icy sidewalk in Philadelphia. He died in the hospital. With no identification on him, his body lay unclaimed in the morgue for more than a month, until his identity could be established.

Malick’s sister—Groce’s grandmother—was put up for adoption when she was two, and family history got a bit blurred. Now Groce is trying to recover information that was lost for two generations. When she does, we hope to learn more about this pilot.


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