"Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord."
Seventy-six years ago, an experiment was conducted called the Tuskegee Experiment. As stated on the official TuskegeeAirmen.Org web site, the experiment was aimed at proving that African-Americans were able to fly and maintain combat aircraft.
1. Does the fact that there was seen the need of such an experiment a signal of the warped views and racial perspectives during that era, just seventy-six years ago?
2. Do the men and women who made up the Tuskegee Airmen serve as beacons of positive change?
The Tuskegee Institute in Alabama was a formidable aeronautics school in the United States, but soon enough it became home base for the World War Two Tuskegee Airmen fighter-pilot wing. The Tuskegee Airmen included men and women, black and white, operating in different capacities as a team. The elite African-American pilot unit was held to the highest standards and the first class of African-American fighter pilots graduated in May of 1940. Winning victory after victory in each of their missions, the pilots mission success set them apart as one of the best, if not the best ace fighter unit in the U.S. Air Force. The Tuskegee Experience continued until 1949 when it was disbanded and African-Americans were completely integrated into the U.S. Air Force.
There is a giant statue of the late-Congressman Adam Clayton Powell at the government square in Harlem. He appears to be 'going forth' in motion and with clear purpose. In my readings, during the time that the Tuskegee airmen were doing their duty as sons of liberty, Adam Clayton Powell was passing legislation to outlaw lynching in New York and in hot-pursuit of expanding African-American rights to equal those of caucasians. Did Powell act alone or did he work well with others?
3. Did the Tuskegee Airmen African-American pilots became a superior ace-flying fighter wing by themselves?
Men and women of different skin tones and colors like the team of people who made up the Tuskegee Airmen showcase that our life experience becomes richer and better when we look out for one another with a spirit of working together and building each other up.
The African-American Tuskegee pilots legacy also stands to show younger generations of all kinds of Americans, that African-Americans in particular, have crawled and fought their way out of utter human bondage and have positively disrupted the United States of America.
Men like Frederick Douglas, George Washington Carver, Congressman Powell; women like Sojourner Truth, who freed countless slaves and was part of the Union's armed forces during the Civil War; Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall who gained victory for America in Brown vs. Board of Education and positively disrupted America; Rosa Parks who showed an entire nation that there are different kinds of powers and strengths in her show-down. The Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, musical maestros like Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday, Fats Dominos, Ella Fitzgerald, Chuck Berry, B.B. King, Al Green, Miles Davis, Charles Mingus, Aretha Franklin, Bill Withers, Otis Redding, Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder and of course, our President... Barack H. Obama, are all part of our #AmericanTreasure, and stand as gems for not only young African-Americans but all Americans. Can the success of the Tuskegee Airmen, a fighter plane wing made up of all races, be attributed to its multi-ethnicity? Did each of these American treasures work alongside teams of people of different races and creeds? Be it through a civil rights movement or on the set of a movie illustrating the life of the airmen to new generations of Americans, each of these players worked in concert with others towards enriching America and what it stands for.
Other incredible African-Americans who have impacted us as a whole nation are woven into this American fabric. They include, actors and film directors like Sydney Poitier, James Earl Jones, Denzel Washington, Danny Glover, Spike Lee, Lawrence Fishburne, Samuel L. Jackson, Morgan Freedman and Will Smith, to name a few. All these men and women have been trailblazers in their own right, powerhouses even, intentful on doing the right thing, on serving their country through their service, their humanity and particular professions.
Each of these, plus the teams of people who worked with them serve as beacons of positive change in the United States in the wake of the severe lapses in our shared humanity and illustrate through their commitments our countries ability to overcome the tragedies of our shared past.