Museum to Honor Tuskegee Airmen

During a time when the world was at war, a small group of young men changed history by stepping into the cockpit and defending their fellow countrymen from the air. The Tuskegee Airmen were a unit of black airplane pilots who flew for the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II and it seems their story is finally being told.

The California African American Museum has recently opened an exciting new exhibit dedicated to the story of the Tuskegee Airmen. Running from June 21 until November 1, the exhibit takes visitors on a journey through time where they can learn about the unlikely beginnings of this hearty team of men. For some, such as Jerry Hodges who spent his younger days chopping cotton and plowing fields, the dream of taking to the air was one that no doubt seemed far out of reach for a black teenager in the 1930s. Yet Hodges later became a member of the Tuskegee Airmen, earning his U.S. Army Air Corps‘ wings in 1944. The now 83-year-old gray-haired Hodges was present at the museum on Sunday for the opening of the new exhibit, “Tuskegee: The Journey to Flight”.

According to museum curator Tiffini Bowers, getting the artifacts together for the display was a challenge. The crew was formed at a time when people did not see a need to save remnants from their past. Some of the efforts made by this unit were not appreciated and so very little was set aside for posterity. Some of the items visitors will see include uniforms, squadron badge replicas, pilot logs, a flight simulation plane, model airplanes, photographs and letters of correspondence between Eleanor Roosevelt and pilot Cecil Peterson showing her support of the program. The exhibit also includes a paper airplane workshop, a theatrical performance, a series of screened documentaries and a number of question-and-answer sessions with surviving Tuskegee Airmen.

Those who are interested in the exhibit still have plenty of time to get to the California African American Museum. However the chance to catch a glimpse into this small slice of groundbreaking history should not be missed.