• Publication date: March 17, 2010

The Tuskegee Airmen The Tuskegee Airmen

“The Tuskegee Airmen” is an Academy Award-winning account of America’s first black ...

“The Tuskegee Airmen” is an Academy Award-winning account of America’s first black fighter pilots and their struggle against society’s prejudice and the government’s discriminatory policies. In 1942 America was fighting World War II alongside its allies, focused on destroying the Axis powers: Germany, Japan and Italy. Yet that was not the only battle the United States was engaged in. At home a cultural shift was on the horizon, one that despite its moral necessity would face resistance of war-like proportions. While fighting for Europe’s freedom abroad, America neglected to maintain the rights of its black citizens at home. Predating the 60s Civil Rights movement, black and white Americans were segregated in many parts of the country, unable to eat in the same restaurants, sleep in the same hotels, or even drink from the same water fountains – a set of statues implemented by the notorious Jim Crowe laws. A true doctrine of separate but equal may not have been so bad, however quality of life was rarely, if ever proportionate. This extended even into the military, where black and white units operated independently; in some cases blacks were barred from serving in entirety. Viewed as infantile and incompetent, African-Americans were not permitted to pilot fighter jets; authorities foolishly believed that the so-called “Negro mind” was not capable of such complex tasks. That is where the 332nd Fighter Group entered the picture, a group of largely middle-class, college-educated black pilots determined to fight for the purported freedom that their constitution offered, even if their country was not necessarily willing to return the favor. The Tuskegee Airmen were a real group of people, and their story is loosely depicted within the film. Before the men can navigate through the skies, however, they must endure the turbulence of their racist instructor who – like many other whites, believes teaching African-Americans to fly is not only impossible, but a potentially destructive idea. More problematic though is a senator determined to keep these up and coming pilots on the ground and out of the cockpit. With perseverance the men not only reach their initial goal, but far exceed it – earning the trust and admiration of their white colleagues and the honor of taking the First Lady on an aeronautic joyride. At the end of World War II the 332nd Fighter Group would emerge as one of the few to have never lost a bomber to enemy action, and inspire generations to come. The picture is rated PG-13 for thematic elements and brief strong war violence.