Freedom Flyers of Tuskegee
efore there was a Civil Rights Movement in the Unites States of America, there were the actions of the Tuskegee Airmen. Many African American men and women were aviators in the early 1930's, but established military policy forbade them from flying. However, as World War II loomed, there was heavy pressure from black organizations and leaders such as the NAACP, A. Phillip Randolph (head of the Brotherhood of Sleeping-Car Porter's Union), Dr. W.E.B. DuBois, and some journalists to offer U.S. Army pilot training to black United States citizens. Over 950 African American men became fighter pilots at the Tuskegee Army Airfield during World War II. By war's end,the Tuskegee Airmen were awarded 150 Distinguished Flying Crosses, 744 Air Medals and Clusters, numerous Legions of Merit, the Red Star of Yugoslavia and a Presidential Unit Citation. This is the story of their struggle to be accepted as World War II United States Army Air Corps pilots, and their fight to defend a country that denied them some of their rights and civil liberties.