HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WHLT) – It’s a movie on the big screen, and the star is a Hattiesburg native.
‘Devotion’ is a true story about an American hero and the first African American Navy Aviator Jesse Brown. The Hub City honored Brown earlier this month.
The motion picture ‘Devotion’ tells of a friendship that developed between Navy Aviators Tom Hudner and Hattiesburg native Jesse Brown. Brown, who grew up picking cotton, is the first African American Navy Aviator wo died during the Koren War after his plane was hit by enemy gunfire in 1950. Johnathan Majors plays Jesse Brown.
“I don’t think after this, we will reference the Korean War as the forgotten war, you know, and Jesse stands right beside the Tuskegee Airmen in people’s memory and in people’s hopefully esteem. Based on what we did in that film, I have no doubt,” said Brown.
His life is memorialized at the African American Military History Museum in Hattiesburg, where a reception was held recently with family, friends, and cast from the movie to honor him and others who have served our country.
Pamerla Knight is Jesse Brown’s daughter. His granddaughter, Jessica Knight-Henry, said their happy that history is finally being told so the whole world can see.
“We grew up knowing like his story and what he meant to the community, but it’s very powerful to be in this moment and see just how much and what it means to people beyond Hattiesburg and Mississippi and the world, so we’re so excited he’s getting his moment,” said Knight-Henry.
J.D. Dillard is the director of the film and hopes audience will not only walk away with a history lesson about Brown but also a message.
“It’s really a story about mutual understanding, you know, and how how difficult it really is to be there for someone in the way that they need you there for them. So, I hope you know, as the film ends and the credits roll, you know, that’s something that you take away.
For his actions, Brown was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Purple Heart Medal, and the Air Medal. ‘Devotion’ is currently playing in theaters.