The Tuskegee Airmen were the first
African American fighter pilots in the Army Air Corps during World War
II. The Tuskegee Airmen began as an experiment by the Civil Aeronautics
Authority at the Tuskegee Institute in Tuskegee, Alabama. The African-Americans at Tuskegee were
initially trained separately. Congress thought they weren’t smart enough to be good
soldiers. They only granted the experiment due to the pressure from black leaders.
War II lasted from 1939 to 1945. In 1940, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt
agreed to allow African Americans to fly airplanes in the military. Before
this, African Americans could only enlist in the Armed Forces as part of the
ground troops, cooks and mechanics. The first African American Airmen reported for duty in 1941.
The soldiers were
completely separated by race and the two races could not communicate. About 450
African American pilots finished the training. These men were the original Tuskegee
Airmen. There were to be many more Tuskegee Airmen in the years to come. The
Tuskegee Airmen had an amazing track record. They did not lose any of the
bombers they were escorting.
This lesson is created for middle school students. It will answer questions like Who are the Tuskegee Airmen? Where were they from? What did they do? and why were they called "Red Tail Angels"?