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Seventy-five years ago, a group of men made history. Those men were the Tuskegee Airmen. Today, they are being celebrated for their achievements in a ceremony at the Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site in Tuskegee, Alabama and at a VIP Reception at the Renaissance Montgomery Hotel and Spa in Montgomery, Alabama.

The men, officially the U.S. Army Corps 99th Pursuit Squadron, also known as the ‘Red Tails’ for the distinctive red paint on their plane’s tails, was inaugurated on March 22, 1941. The all-Black squadron was decorated for their valor and has been documented in movies like The Tuskegee Airmen on HBO starring Larry Fishburne, Allen Payne, Malcolm Jamal Warner  and Cuba Gooding, Jr., and on the big screen in George Lucas’ Red Tails starring David Oyelowo, Nate Parker, Terrence Howard and Tristan Wilds. (Gooding, Jr. actually appeared in both movies.)

“To help celebrate this milestone we have set a goal to raise $75 Million over ten years for the Tuskegee Airmen Youth Aerospace and STEM Academy as a perpetual memorial to the Tuskegee Airmen,” says Brigadier General Leon Johnson, (USAF, Ret.) National President of  Tuskegee Airmen, Inc. “The Tuskegee Airmen Youth Aerospace and STEM Academy has the goal to simulate the efforts made beginning in 1941 that resulted in over 16,000 individuals being part of the Tuskegee Experience which proved that blacks could take on any and all aspects related to the field of aviation.”

For more information go to the Tuskegee Airmen official website HERE.

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3 thoughts on “Tuskegee Airmen Celebrate 75th Anniversary

  1. Chauncey Spencer on said:

    Before there were the Tuskegee Airmen, there was Chauncey Spencer.
    And without Spencer, a Lynchburg native, the Tuskegee Airmen might never have existed to help pave the way for the integration of the nation’s armed forces. In 1939, war was raging in Europe. America, aware that it might soon be involved, needed pilots. But the leaders of the Army Air Corps believed African-Americans lacked the intelligence, courage and initiative necessary to fly a plane, said Todd Moye, chairman of the National Park Services Tuskegee Airmen Oral History Project.
    …………………… ………………….
    The Army Air Corps went to Congress and explained it needed several thousand new pilots. Congress began debating a bill to establish civilian pilot training at colleges and flight schools across the country. Little thought was given to African-Americans who wanted to fly and serve their country.
    Then, in May 1939, Spencer and Dale White, both African-Americans, flew a rented biplane on a 10-city tour that started in Chicago and ended in Washington – and drew national attention.
    “They proved the ridiculousness of Jim Crow and the inaccuracy of American racism,” Moye said.
    The two pilots met Missouri Sen. Harry S. Truman. Surprised to learn that blacks were denied entry into the Air Corps, Truman inspected their plane and told the pilots, “If you’ve got guts enough to fly that thing, I’ve got guts enough to fight for you.” Truman helped establish funding for the training of black pilots at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama.
    By the end of World War II, Tuskegee had turned out 992 pilots, 450 of whom had been sent overseas for combat. About 150 lost their lives. The Tuskegee Airmen never lost a bomber under their protection and were “the only unit in the war … that could make that claim,” Moye said.
    Three years after the war, Truman, then president, ordered the U.S. armed forces to desegregate.
    One of three children of Edward A. Spencer and Anne Spencer, a noted Harlem Renaissance poet, Chauncey was born in 1906 and “grew up in a household that had visits from civil rights leaders in the early 1900s,” said his daughter, Carol Spencer-Read. Inevitably, she said, he was an activist in the struggle for equality.
    In 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued an order prohibiting discrimination in federal agencies and industries with government contracts.
    Spencer, who had been working as an instrument repairman at an Air Force base in Ohio, was sent to the Air Force base at Tuskegee to work undercover as an aircraft mechanic in order to study and report on the conditions there.
    After Spencer submitted his report on discrimination at the base, Tuskegee’s commanding officer was replaced and new policies were put in place.
    “Is it an oversimplification to say that had Chauncey Spencer not done what he did in 1939, and had not continued to fight for equal rights during the war and afterward, that it would have taken the military and the United States as a whole much longer to desegregate than it did?” Moye asked rhetorically. “It may be, but it’s not far from the truth, either.”
    In 1983, Spencer was inducted into the Virginia Aviation Hall of Fame.
    Spencer was 95 when he died on Aug. 21, 2002.

  2. Chauncey Spencer on said:

    National Airmen’s Association of America | The HistoryMakers

    During the mid-1930’s and prior to World War II a group of individuals came together in Chicago to form an organization that actively pursued and set the stage for the participation of African Americans in aviation and aeronautics. Under the leadership of Cornelius R. Coffey, Willa B, Brown, and Enoc P. Waters, the National Negro Airmen Association of America was formed with the express purpose of stimulating interest in aviation, and bringing about a better understanding of aeronautics. Shortly there after, Claude Barnett, director of the Association of Negro Press (ANP), with strong backing from Chauncey Spencer and Dale White, suggested that the word Negro be dropped and the organization renamed itself the National Airmen Association of America.

    On June 9, 2010, The HistoryMakers interviewed Chauncey E. Spencer II to document the history of the National Airmen Association of America. The relatively unknown organization was vital to the success of the Tuskegee Airmen.

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