"Red Tails," the years-long project of director George Lucas, is sure to bring some overdue attention to the Tuskegee Airmen, the all-black aviation unit that fought discrimination in the U.S. military as well as our enemies in World War II. Reviews for the movie have not been outstanding, but I'm looking forward to seeing it anyway. (Then again, I've watched "The Longest Day" over and over.)
According to a National Park Service history of the Airmen, before 1940, blacks were barred from flying for the U.S. military. Civil rights organizations and the black press exerted pressure that resulted in the formation of an all African-American squadron based in Alabama, near the Tuskegee Institute, in 1941. The much-decorated group, which became known as the Tuskegee Airmen, included pilots, navigators, bombardiers, maintenance and support staff.
For more on the Tuskegee Airmen, check out these books:
-- "Red Tails: The Tuskegee Airmen and Operation Halyard" by Gregory A. Freeman.
-- "The Tuskegee Airmen: The Men Who Changed a Nation" by Charles E. Francis and Adolph Caso.