This is Our American History
The Tuskegee Airmen were the first African American military aviators in the U.S. armed forces. During World War II, the American military was radically segregated, as was the country, and many African Americans were not given the chance to be pilots, let alone in the military. However, thanks to Congress designating funds to train African American civilian pilots, the Tuskegee Experiment was established. Even with such funding, and much interest, the experiment didn't take off until First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt flew with C. Alfred “Chief” Anderson. After the flight, Eleanor Roosevelt helped the program move forward. By 1943, the Tuskegee Airmen had pilots excelling in flight. In 1944, there were many African American pilots ready for combat thanks to the Tuskegee Experiment.
One of the more famous units of the Tuskegee Airmen was the 332 Fighter Group, better known to us as the Red Tails. The Red Tails flew in the war in 1944 and were credited with destroying at least 112 airborne enemy aircrafts, 150 aircraft on the ground, over 600 train cars, over 40 barges/boats, and a German Navy destroyer-which was the first accomplishment of that time.
Recently George Lucas, of Star Wars fame, saluted the Tuskegee Airmen by creating a movie about the 332 Fighter Group. Lucas revealed on television that it took about 23 years to make the film and that the long delay of the film was, “…[B]ecause the major film studios balked at financing and marketing a film with an "all-black" cast and "no major white roles.” Lucas continued that the studios receive 60% of their profit from overseas and the studios feel there is no market there for this type of historical movie. George Lucas saw this part of America’s history just as important as the other films with historical content and decided to fund and release this movie by himself. This story goes beyond Black History month. This is our American History.
As we celebrate Black History month this month, let us continue to embrace all of the sacrifices that were made to create this great country. Let us remember that, even though our country has less racism, that it still exists. Let’s work together to educate all of today’s students about our American History.
In my opinion, everyone should support this movie not because it’s an “all-black” cast or that George Lucas got it in the theaters, but because this is a great teaching moment about our nation’s history. Red Tails is out in theaters and is a great history lesson waiting to be retold.
To go beyond the movie, there are a massive amount of websites and resources about the Tuskegee Airmen. Some of them are: