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AfriGeneas Military Research Forum

Tuskegee Airmen Exhibition Atlanta, Georgia

The Auburn Avenue Research Library on African American Culture and History is hosting an exhibition, and collaborative programme, with Kennesaw State University, Georgia, Tuskegee University, Alabama and The Tuskegee Airmen Incorporated. The exhibition is titled; "Segregated Skies of WWII" and is scheduled from January 16th.-February 28th. 2010.

The Auburn Avenue Research Library on African American Culture and History is located on 101 Auburn Avenue NE Atlanta, GA 30303. The historic District, and prominent African-American neighborhood, is also known as "Sweet" Auburn Avenue. Auburn Avenue was previously known as Wheat Street.

During an earlier period; Auburn Avenue represented an area and era dominated by "Jim Crow": policies, laws and restrictions. This legacy may be researched today through the methodology of early town planning and housing development in addition to burial sites of the State of Georgia.

A member of the Atlanta Chapter of the Tuskegee Airmen invited me to see the exhibition and discuss his experiences and that of others. This was very educative as he was able to provide details about people in particular photographs as well as military engagements of the Tuskegee Airmen.

Aspects of my global research relating to WWII and WWI; particularly as it applies to: medical history, race relations, the US War Office and the extensive influence of eugenics; were discussed.

The ninth panel in the exhibition provided concise comments on the impact of eugenics in the United States and Germany in a very balanced way and manner. Perhaps this will provide an opportunity for a wider academic and public debate regarding the influence of eugenic: propaganda, research and training in the US Army before and after WWI.

The exhibition consists of ten vibrant and artistic panels which stand independently of photographs that are mounted on the walls. These photographs include not only the Tuskegee Airmen but brave African-Americans (male and female)from all branches of the military.

What is remarkable is that African-Americans fought to uphold Democratic Freedoms for: the United States, Europe and countries that were colonized by Western countries. At the same time African-American (men and women)serving their country were obliged to fight racial bigotry and propaganda; at home and abroad. Thus they frequently were forced to fight two engagements; without hesitation to survive.

Sound recording for the exhibition was compiled of primary commentary about the experiences of Tuskegee Airmen. This included 'dogfighting' the Luftwaffe over Berlin and Czechoslovakia. The Red Tails destroyed German FW190s with skill including a plane that was considered Germany's top secret weapon while in combat over Berlin. This was the first such victory for any US pilot.

The eugenic principal of "survival of the fittest" took its toll on German pilots, military forces, people and the Nation.

The German Luftwaffe was considered amongst the most experienced, highly skilled and trained fighter pilots of WWII with air technology to complement. My Tuskegee guide for the exhibition informed me that the Germans termed the Tuskegee Airmen "The Black Red Tails" and began to recognize; as the war progressed; that the Tuskegee Airmen were formidable. This is inspite of the stereotypes and failings ascribed to the Tuskegee Airmen and support staff. "The Black Red Tales" mastered the German pilots on German territory and contributed significantly to German decline in air power as the war began to end.

For everyone shall be salted with fire and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt... (Mark 9:49)

The recorded commentary also included experiences of a Tuskegee Airman in a German prisoner of war camp. He recalled that he was treated the same as white officers and felt that he got more respect in a German prisoner of war camp than in the United States.

Recorded reflections were also included of a conversation between an African American and Japanese prisoner of war which was discouraged at the time. An airmens feelings were revealed when he discussed his "orders" as he got off the ship following close of duties. He was told "whites to the left and negroes to the right".

The exhibition is a capsule of history that is important for the African American Community particularly youth. Although the exhibition reflects abundant adversity it also reflects abundant hope because of the model African-American military heritage has contributed globally to the self esteem of Africa and the Diaspora.

If you faint in the day of adversity thy strength is small (Proverbs 24:10)

Thank you for the opportunity to comment.

Dr. I.M. Spence-Lewis

18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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