Friday, October 20, 2017
‘Flying While Black’: Comedian experiences present day Rosa Parks
By Jason Lewis (Sports Editor)
Published September 8, 2011

Actor and funnyman Michael Colyar speaks about being kicked off a recent United Airlines flight.

Comedian Michael Colyar recently reached out to the Sentinel regarding an incident he experienced during a United Airlines flight.  The funnyman who most is known for his bold standup routines and appearances in films such as Barbershop, House Party 2 and lending his voice to the historic Princess and the Frog film was recently kicked off a United Airlines flight for allegedly not cooperating with a flight attendant and crew. 

Colyar was interviewed by the Sentinel and gave us his side of the story.

Colyar shared that he was booted off the flight for not removing his bag from an overhead compartment.  He felt he was discriminated against because he wouldn’t remove his belongings for a Caucasian woman who boarded the flight after he did. 

It’s important to note that Colyar has been flying United Airlines for over 19 years and his wife was a flight attendant for over 25 years with United Airlines.  He was even considered a “Premiere Executive,” which gave him certain flying perks.  

Colyar said that after the flight was full and the door almost closed, a woman passenger (Caucasian) came running on the plane late and had a large bag that had to be stowed away.  Colyar shared that the woman passenger must have known the flight attendant because they shared words and gave each other a hug before proceeding.   After searching the plane for luggage space, the flight attendant made her way down to Colyar and asked him to remove his belongings that were stored in the above compartment and asked that he place them under his feet.  Colyar said no because he already had a bag under his feet so there was no space. He also knew the rules which stated each passenger is allowed to have two carry-on items during flight. 

The flight attendant would end up storing the Caucasian passenger’s luggage in first class even though the she was flying coach. 

The flight attendant then gathered with the other flight attendants on the plane and started pointing and whispering about Colyar in an obvious manner.  Colyar felt uncomfortable and didn’t want to fly for 4 hours under these conditions so he called for the head flight attendant to complain.  Instead of speaking with the head flight attendant, the employee who worked the counter to check passengers in before boarding the flight walked from outside the plane onto the plane to talk with him.  Colyar again requests to speak to the head flight attendant and the flight attendant that was giving him flack about the luggage says to him that “you better talk to her or nobody”.  Colyar told the two women that they are not his boss so the two United Airlines employees walked away and brought the captain out to speak with him. 

Colyar wanted to point out that he wasn’t cursing during the entire incident.  He wasn’t belligerent, he wasn’t drunk.  He was calm and just wanted to complain. 

Colyar continued his stressful story sharing that the flight attendant that was giving him flack yelled out that she wanted him off the plane so the captain goes away for five minutes and comes back with the federal police to escort Colyar off the plane. He felt all of this was caused from the flight attendant not wanting him to file a complaint.  After being booted off the United Airlines flight, the plane took off without Colyar and departed. 

“For me it was theft of revenue because the airline is not a governmental agency, the airline is just a business, it’s a company that I paid for its service”, said Colyar.  “Now I have paid for this service and they arbitrarily have taken this service away from me which also means they killed my time.   Because I was trying get back to the NAACP Theatre Awards….not only have I missed that, they have humiliated me because all these white folks sitting around thinking this n***** done did something so bad they had to have Marshalls  take him off the plane.  And they defamed my character because people came in and talked to me and spoke to me and high fived me who are fans of mine and they are all sitting on back of the plane looking at me thinking, Michael Colyar is being dragged off the plane and did something wrong.”      

The incident ended with Colyar being allowed to fly on the next flight for free.   He was asked by the airlines before departing could he guarantee something like this would not happen again?  He went on to say, “How can I guarantee this won’t happen again?  How can I guarantee that a white lady is going to come in and want my space and if I don’t give it up they going to throw me off the plane?  That’s why I call it a Rosa Parks moment.  If I had been some white sitting there in a suit, there is no way in hell they would have dealt with me like this.  Somebody would have at least talked to me”. 

Since the incident Colyar has been contacted by the United Airlines twice and gave them his exact story which he has written and is available to read on  In addition, Colyar is now being represented by Milton Grimes who most people know from the Rodney King trial.   

When asked what does he want to see come out of this situation, Colyar stated plainly that he is going to sue.  “They have violated my civil rights because as far as I am concerned they put me off that plane because I am Black”, said Colyar. 

He also hopes this will bring awareness to the Patriot Act which was signed by the Bush Administration after 9/11.  Colyar feels that the Patriot Act takes away many freedoms and rights of Americans.  He blames the patriot act for the treatment at airports because there is no respect shown to patrons. 

“It’s unconstitutional…they don’t have to tell you nothing, they don’t have to read you no rights, they can detain you for any period of time they want to and it’s supposed to be called the Patriot Act”. 

If you want to hear more from Michael Colyar you can hear him live every Tuesday from 3PM until 5PM on  The show is titled, “Michael Colyar’s Morning Show, I get up late”.   

Categories: News (Entertainment)

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