EVENT Tuskegee Airmen to appear

The Houston Public Library is inviting the community to meet a few of the surviving legendary Tuskegee Airmen during a visit at HPL’s African American Library at the Gregory School. This visit will take place on Wednesday, Oct. 24 at 6 p.m. and feature a panel discussion focused on challenges and triumphs the men faced as the first African-American aviators in the United States armed forces during World War II.

Along with the panel discussion, visitors can also view the Library’s exhibit The Tuskegee Airmen: The Segregated Skies of World War II, now through January 5, 2013. The event and the exhibit are free and open to the public. The African Library at the Gregory School is located at 1300 Victor Street, 77019. 

Ten Tuskegee Airmen are now in their 80s and 90s, but enlisted while in their teens and 20s. This is a unique opportunity to meet and greet these brave and honored world-class pilots who, despite having to endure discrimination and other challenges, still fought for their country. The airmen that will be at HPL include: Claude Platte, Ed Tillmon, James Sheppard, Buford Johnson, Alex Jefferson, Richard Jennings, Nancy Leftenant Colon, James Pryde, Larry Brown Jr., and Dr. Luzine Bickham.

This group became known as the “Tuskegee Airmen” because many of them received their primary, basic and advanced pilot training in the city of Tuskegee, Alabama. During World War II, African Americans in many U. S. states were still subject to racism and segregation.

Much of the federal government, including the American military was also racially segregated and the Tuskegee Airmen were subjected to racial discrimination, both within and outside the army. They trained in overcrowded classrooms, airstrips, and old equipment. Despite these hardships they trained, flew with distinction and proved to be world class pilots.

The Airmen flew escort missions and proved that African Americans could fight and protect as well as any other U. S. pilot or soldier. From these missions the men earned the nickname “Red Tail Angels,” because the bombers considered their escorts “angels” and also because of the red paint on the propeller and tail of their planes. Due to the Tuskegee Airmen’s success, President Truman integrated the armed forces in 1948.

For further information, visit the Houston Public Library at www.houstonlibrary.org or call 832-393-1313.

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