Each year in February, the country recognizes African American History Month to highlight the struggles and triumphs of millions of American citizens during some of the most devastating obstacles in the nation’s history … slavery, prejudice, poverty … and looks at their contributions to the nation’s cultural and political life.
An important part of this celebration was the significant pioneering event in our history, with the creation of the Tuskegee Airmen. The Tuskegee Airmen were an elite group of African American pilots in the 1940s. They were pioneers in equality and integration of the Armed Forces. The term "Tuskegee Airmen" refers to all that were involved in the Army Air Corps program to train African Americans to fly and maintain combat aircraft. The Tuskegee Airmen included pilots, navigators, bombardiers, maintenance and support staff, instructors, and all the personnel who kept the planes in the air.
The primary flight training for these servicemembers took place at the Division of Aeronautics of Tuskegee Institute. Air Corps officials built a separate facility at Tuskegee Army Air Field to train the pilots. The Tuskegee Airmen not only battled enemies during wartime, but also fought against racism and segregation, thus proving they were just as good as any other pilots. Racism was common during World War II and many people did not want blacks to become pilots. The Tuskegee Airmen trained in overcrowded classrooms and airstrips, and suffered from the racist attitude of some military officials. The Tuskegee Airmen had suffered many hardships, but they proved themselves to be world class pilots.
On June 1, 1949, Air Force officials published regulations ending segregation, thus becoming the first of all U.S. military service branches to complete integration of African-American personnel into all-white units.
The first celebration to commemorate the contributions to the nation made by people of African descent, occurred Feb. 12, 1926. For many years, the second week of February was set aside for this celebration to coincide with the birthdays of abolitionist and editor Frederick Douglas, as well as President Abraham Lincoln. In 1976, as part of the nation’s bicentennial, the week was expanded into Black History Month. Since then, U.S. presidents proclaim February as National African-American History Month.
President Barack Obama, the 44th Commander-In-Chief, is recognized by the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute in an original artwork available for download. To download the artwork, visit www.deomi.org.
Resource courtesy, Air Force News.