The Stapleton Neighborhood in Denver and Aurora is currently in the conversation for such a name change due to Tay Anderson's public call for action and steps have already been taken forward.
We applaud the steps taken by the Stapleton Master Community Association and Stapleton United Neighbors and are recommending the name Mosley and/or Mosley Park as possible names.
Andrew Reed first started this conversation in the Stapleton United Neighbors Community on Facebook and we want to continue the conversation.
John and Edna Mosley were Civil Rights Activists who broke the housing barrier in Denver and Aurora by being the first family of color to purchase a home in Aurora.
The Mosley name is respected in both Denver and Aurora for the efforts made to bring equality for all residents. John and Edna dedicated themselves to public service and their efforts improved the lives of all those who call Denver and Aurora home.
It’s well known that John W. Mosley was a Tuskegee Airman, serving his country in WWII and contributing to the allies victory, but he also assisted in drafting the initial policies relating to the integration of the new U.S. Air Force as ordered by President Harry S. Truman. His honorable service is only amplified by his pursuit of justice in the skies and below. Stapleton, as it once was an airport, couldn't be more deserving of the Mosley name.
Born June 21, 1921 in Denver, Colorado, John William Mosley was the son of a Cripple Creek silver rush settler. He spent his early educational career at Whittier Elementary School, Cole Junior High School, and Manual Training High School. While attending Manual, he played football and wrestled. He was also the valedictorian, and earned the National Merit Scholarship.
When John Mosley enrolled at Colorado State University in 1939, he managed to cover his first year of tuition with an academic scholarship. But as an African American, he faced many obstacles – he was barred from living in college residence halls, encountered racism and bigotry on campus and was denied service at local restaurants. Despite those limitations, he made the CSU football team as a walk-on candidate, the first black student to ever play there or in the Big Seven. After graduation he battled discrimination in the military, too, although he would eventually become one of the earliest black pilots in World War II as a Tuskegee Airman.
Upon graduation from Manual High School, Edna Mosley attended the University of Northern Colorado. During World War II, she worked in the defense industry. Edna then returned to college and was a graduate in the first Baccalaureate program at Metropolitan State College in Denver. Edna was the first African American to be elected to the Aurora City Council, where she served for 12 years. Edna passed away on August 26, 2014.
Breaking the Color Barrier
John W. Mosley graduated from Manual High School in Denver as a National Merit Scholar, and enrolled at the Agricultural College of Colorado (now Colorado State University) in 1939. The college at that time had only eight other African American students all of whom were not allowed to live on campus. While at CSU, Mosley wanted to try out for a sport, football in particular. Mosley joined the football team under coach Harry W. Hughes in 1940 and he became the first African American to the football team at Colorado State University in Fort Collins in the record keeping era. He faced a lot of discrimination by the white players on the team who did not want him there. For example, while trying out some players purposefully hit him very hard to discourage him from joining the team. He did however win several players over and made two very good friends in Dude Dent and Woody Fries. In the same year, Mosley expressed an interest in wrestling and also joined the wrestling team under coach Julius Wagner. By joining the team he became the first African American wrestler at Colorado State University. He became the first African American to earn an athletic letter in Colorado State University football team history. He also broke the color barriers off the field when he was elected class vice president in both of his junior and senior years.
The Tuskegee Airmen
Mosley also had been interested in being a pilot, and he paid for his own flight lessons and physical, he had gotten a physical in Denver that told him he had a heart murmur, this he believed to be false. In 1941, the all Black fighter squadron was formed at Tuskegee, called the 99th Fighter Squadron which is better known as the Tuskegee Airmen. Mosley had wanted to join them after he graduated. After graduation, Mosley was drafted into a segregated Army Artillery unit stationed in Fort Sill, Oklahoma and not the Tuskegee Airmen, despite Mosley holding a civilian pilot's license. While at Fort Sill, he began to write many letters to command and Washington, D.C. asking to be reassigned to the Tuskegee Airmen. Eventually, these letters did lead to his reassignment. He trained as a bomber pilot, one of the first African Americans to do so. He served with distinction in World War II and earned the rank of Command Pilot. He chose to return to the states as a civilian in 1946 to earn his master's degree in Social Work from the University of Denver in 1948. Soon afterwards he returned to service and fought in the Korean and Vietnam wars. Mosley also flew during the Berlin Airlift. He finally retired from the air force in 1970 obtaining the rank of lieutenant colonel.
Civil Rights Era
Mosley was a strong activist. During his time as a Tuskegee airmen, he was fighting for his rights and others to serve in the armed forces. His role was to integrate the military, the armed forces and the civil rights activities that took place in the United States. Mosley used his motivation and determination to fight for integration in the Armed forces. People would ask him why he wasn't bitter about his rights in the Armed forces. Mosley was a part of a movement to prove that he was capable of making a contribution to the development of our great nation. After being in the Tuskegee Airmen, John Mosley joined the Federal government to continue being a civil rights activist. He married his high school friend Edna Wilson and both of them remained active in a number of professional and community organizations to help the African American community have equal rights. John Mosley served as a special assistant to the undersecretary in the Department of Health and Human Services when he and his wife moved to Aurora Colorado and was transferred to the Lowry Air Force Base. His wife became the first African American lady to become a city councilwomen in Aurora. He worked in a variety of positions including Equal Opportunity Specialist, Staff Director of the Mountain Plains Federal Regional Council and Special Assistant to James Farmer, Assistant Secretary of Administration.
Due to the impact that John W. Mosley as well as his wife Edna had in the Aurora Community, Aurora's Mayor, Steve Hogan, decided to dedicate a school to the individuals. The school, Edna and John W. Mosley P-8, opened on October 1, 2015 near Airport Boulevard and 2nd Avenue in Aurora, Colorado. Currently, it is serving more than 900 students.
We are asking for support to run a media campaign to ensure that Stapleton’s new neighborhood name is changed to Mosley. We will build a website with information about the Mosley family, create a Facebook group, run paid ads in support, print lawn signs and banners and host a Zoom townhall about the name change. The next vote by the Stapleton board will be in approximately two weeks. With your support, we can reach our fundraising goal and change the Stapleton neighborhood to Mosley! Please share with your networks and reach out to us if you have any questions!
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