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Monday, April 12, 2021

Celebrating a legacy

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Defending the United States is an honor; however, Blacks during World War II did not get the same opportunities as their white counterparts. Many Blacks were given jobs that consisted of grunt work and had no real room for advancement.

This was a harsh reality for the Tuskegee Airmen; these men were denied military leadership roles and skilled training because many believed they lacked the qualifications for combat duty.

Civil rights organizations and the Black press applied pressure that resulted in the formation of an all African-American pursuit squadron based in Tuskegee, Ala., in 1941.

They became known as the Tuskegee Airmen.

The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis and the Capitol City Ford Indianapolis Air Show will host the free Commemorative Air Force (CAF) Red Tail Squadron “RISE ABOVE Traveling Exhibit,” and the Indianapolis Chapter of the Tuskegee Airmen Inc. next week.

The mission of the Red Tail Squadron and Tuskegee Airmen organization is to preserve and share the inspiring history and legacy of the Tuskegee men, America’s first Black pilots and support personnel.

“The Tuskegee Airmen have a great story and it’s a natural fit with the museum,” said Charity Counts, associate vice president of exhibits at The Children’s Museum. “We like to share history. It’s great that we are able to tell the public about men rising above adversity and fighting for their country during World War II.”

The Children’s Museum will host the exhibit June 20-21. The exhibit will then travel to Capitol City Ford Indianapolis Air Show at the Indianapolis Regional Airport June 23-24, where it will be joined by the P-51C Mustang and members of the Indianapolis Chapter of Tuskegee Airmen.

Not only will the story be told, it will be presented in an appealing way.

The traveling exhibit is a customized 53-foot trailer with expandable sides that houses a 40-foot long, curved panoramic movie screen. It will be able to seat about 30 people in climate-controlled comfort. A short original movie called “Rise Above” focuses on what the Tuskegee Airmen had to overcome.

“It’s an honor to fly and touch folks with the lessons of how the airmen rose above their personal challenges,” said CAF Red Tail Sgt. Leader Bradford Lang. “These men were dedicated and they persevered. People get excited when they hear these stories.”

According to Lang there are six values that the public should grasp from the exhibit: aim high, believe in yourself, expect to win, never quit, use your brain and be ready to go.

“This exhibit represents overcoming hardship,” Lang adds. “It shows that you do have a chance at success. This will have people saying, ‘hey if they can do it, I can do it too.’”

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