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Volume xviii, Issue 8 ~ February 25 - March 3, 2010

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New in Black History

Tuskegee Airmen’s National Historic Site and George Lucas Movie

by Sandra Olivetti Martin

Harriet Tubman (Feb. 18 Bay Weekly: Harriet Tubman’s Reward: Two new national parks to honor her devotion to freedom) isn’t the only history maker whose stories are getting bigger stages and wider audiences.

The Tuskegee Airmen’s National Historic Site ( was dedicated in 2008 by the National Park Service. The site includes Moton Field, where the 994 African American fighter and bomber pilots trained; a Visitor Center; and Hangar #1 Museum.

The site is the repository for a library of oral histories planned to “make the Tuskegee Airmen story perhaps the best documented aspect of American history interpreted by the National Park Service.” For every pilot, the Park Service writes, “there were perhaps a dozen men and women who provided ground support. Through the Congressionally funded Oral History Project, 1,500 of these men and women will explain their history in their own words.”

The section of I-85 near the National Historic Site has been named the Tuskegee Airmen Memorial Highway.

This week is the 68th anniversary of the commissioning of the first class of Tuskegee Airmen. They received their wings March 1.

Learn more about the Tuskegee Airmen at

A second feature movie about the Tuskegee Airmen is due out this year. Red Tails, named for the Airmen’s distinctive tail paint, is the pet project of George Lucas and promises “techniques which will give us the first true look at the aerial dog-fighting of the era.” If anybody can do that, the Star Wars guy can.

Director is Anthony Hemingway, who has big television credits, including The Wire and CSI, New York. John Ridley wrote the script. Actors include Cuba Gooding Jr., Bryan Cranston, Terrence Howard, David Oyelowo, Nate Parker, Tristan Wilds and Method Man, who was also in The Wire.

The first film was Tuskegee Airmen, a 1995 HBO movie starring Lawrence Fishburn with Cuba Gooding Jr. and Andre Braugher, of Homicide fame.

Two PBS documentaries also recount the Airmen’s history:
The Tuskegee Airmen: They Fought Two Wars, 2003
Nightfighters: The Story of the 332nd Fighter Group, Tuskegee Airmen, 1994

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