The lasting legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen
Today we recognized Tuskegee Airmen Commemoration Day and celebrated the first Black military aviators in the U.S. Army Air Corps, a precursor to the U.S. Air Force. You might have seen the green highway signs announcing Champaign County as the “Birthplace of the Tuskegee Airmen.” They were activated as the 99th Pursuit Squadron at Chanute Airfield Base in Rantoul, Illinois in 1941, trained at the Tuskegee Army Air Field in Alabama from 1941 to 1946, and flew more than 1,800 missions in Europe and North Africa during World War II. Yet, for the Tuskegee Airmen, answering the call of duty meant serving a country that saw them as second-class citizens. They began their service more than 80 years ago, but it was only relatively recently that their stories and accomplishments became widely known. In 2007, they were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, the nation’s highest civilian honor.
To discuss the history and legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen, we were joined by the head of African American Studies at the University of Illinois and a current service member.
At 6 p.m. Friday, March 25, there will be a free screening of the Lucasfilm documentary “Double Victory: Tuskegee Airmen at War” followed by a panel discussion at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Click here to register to attend virtually or in person.
Dr. Ronald W. Bailey
African American Studies Department Head, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
Air Force veteran, first stationed at Chanute Air Force Base | President, Indianapolis Chapter, Tuskegee Airmen, Inc.
Captain Alex Hampton
U.S. Navy Deputy Airwing Commander, Carrier Air Wing 7
Prepared for web by Owen Henderson
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