"Tuskegee Airmen" refers to all who were involved in the so-called "Tuskegee Experience",
the Army Air Corps program to train African Americans to fly and maintain combat aircraft. The Tuskegee Airmen included pilots,
navigators, bombardiers, maintenance and support staff, instructors, and all the personnel who kept the planes in the air.
The Tuskegee Airmen were dedicated,
determined young men who enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps to become America’s first black military airmen.
The CAF Redtail Squadron's P51 will be performing a demonstration during the
show. During the performance you will hear a brief narrative about the P51 and the Tuskegee Airmen. Below is a brief history
on the Tuskegee Airmen:
Like so many others in the late 1930s, the young black Americans who would become known as the Tuskegee
Airmen were full of patriotic zeal and eager to serve in the military as the war in Europe and Asia intensified. What
set them apart was that they wanted to fight the enemy from the air as pilots, something that black people had never been
allowed to do before.
Many applied to U.S. Army Air Corps (USAAC) flight training program, but all were initially rejected because
of the color of their skin – all branches of the U.S. military were deeply segregated. 1940, under the pressure from
black activists, the press, other political groups, and President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the USAAC reversed its position on
accepting black flight program applicants. However, the brass was not fully committed to this change and anticipated that the program would fail
spectacularly. The Army’s decisions about blacks in its ranks were still influenced by a 1925 Army War College
report called The Use of Negro Manpower
in War. The 67-page report was full of cruel and untrue
generalizations about the behavior of black men during wartime and the black race in general. The new program’s cadets were determined
to create a record of excellence during their training and future war service so there could be no doubt about their value
as patriots and aviators.