Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Tuskegee Airmen exhibit educates elementary students

In celebration of Black History Month, San Diego Unified School District's Race Human Relations and Advocacy Department, in association with the San Diego Regional Airport Authority, San Diego Urban League, and the Neighborhood Association presented the “Tuskegee Airmen Rise Above” Traveling Exhibit.

Board of Education Member Marne Foster with one of the Tuskegee Airman. This exhibit was located on the Porter Elementary School campus and is a one of a kind climate controlled movie theater with a 180 degree screen providing a multimedia experience not soon forgotten.

On February 18, 2014, School Board Vice President, Marne Foster celebrated the legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen with a commendation at the ribbon cutting ceremony. Students visited the exhibit daily for the week of February 18-21, 2014. The Tuskegee Airmen Rise Above Exhibit was also available to the public each day.

Special thanks to Lillie McMillan, Dr. Shirley Wilson and Agin Shaheed for making the event a great success.

Find out more about this event by contacting Shaheed, Director of the Race Human Relations and Advocacy Department, at (858) 490-8678.

According to its website, the goal of the Commemorative Air Force Red Tail Squadron is to share with everyone the inspiring legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen, America’s first black military pilots and their support crews. Their strength, courage, and ability to triumph over adversity during World War II can serve to inspire others about how to succeed today.

The Americans who would become known as the Tuskegee Airmen wanted to fight for freedom as pilots during World War II. What made them different from the thousands of others with the same patriotic zeal was that they were black at a time when the U.S. military had no black pilots or air support crews.

In the 1940s, the ignorance of segregation and prejudice was a sad part of American culture. This meant the U.S. military wouldn’t give black men a chance to train as pilots, but as the country geared up for war, President Franklin D. Roosevelt was pressured to change that. He ordered the Army Air Corps to set up a pilot training program in Tuskegee, Alabama.

The program was not expected to be successful, but the young black soldiers who worked so hard to become America’s first black military pilots proved everyone wrong.