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The military assumption of the 1930s was that Black men didn’t have the mental or physical capacity to fly airplanes. White wisdom, widespread racism and the steady hand of Jim Crow reinforced that assumption. So when America entered World War II in 1941, where would they turn to get the military and aviation manpower to fight off the Japanese, Germans, Italians and Austrians while protecting the American home front? The answer rested in the very Black men who were maligned and mistreated and assumed unfit for aviation duty. Their ranks would grow and their dignity and courage prevailed through unending discrimination and mistrust.
They started out as members of the US Army Air Corps. They would later be known as the Tuskegee Airmen of World War II.
Today as Black History Month comes to a close, we pay tribute to the brave men who flew the planes, repaired them, maintained them, conducted military missions overseas and supervised the soldiers…The Tuskegee Airmen. And we’ll pay special tribute to the men we’ll honor at the March 3rd Black History Breakfast, including my father the late, 2nd Lieutenant Wilson A. Copeland who served with his fellow Tuskegee Airmen with dignity, pride and excellence.
Black History IS American History!