It was the color red as far as the eye could see in Tuskegee in mid-January when students and dignitaries were treated to an early screening of George Lucas’ film, Red Tails, which tells the story of the Tuskegee Airmen.
The National Park Service, which manages two sites in Tuskegee, Tuskegee Institute National Historic Site and Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site, hosted several visitors throughout the weekend. The programs brought the legendary Tuskegee Airmen face to face with the actors who portrayed them on the big screen. Rangers gave the actors and director a tour of the national historic district on the Tuskegee University campus and Moton Field, where Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site is located.
The military selected Tuskegee Institute to train pilots because of its commitment to aeronautical training. Tuskegee had the facilities and engineering and technical instructors, as well as a climate for year-round flying. The first civilian pilot training program students completed their instruction in May 1940. The Tuskegee program was then expanded and became the center for African-American aviation during World War II.
The Tuskegee Airmen overcame segregation and prejudice to become one of the most highly respected fighter groups of World War II. They proved conclusively that African Americans could fly and maintain sophisticated combat aircraft. The Tuskegee Airmen's achievements, together with the men and women who supported them, paved the way for full integration of the U.S. military.