The Tuskegee Airmen aka “The Red Tails”

red tails

Happy President’s Day, All!

Yes, I can say that I am proud of our president today, though President’s Day is to honor Presidents Washington and Lincoln. It’s amazing how life continues and changes occur in ones own lifetime, like the continuum of Dr. King to Obama’s presidencies. I often like to use my own life as an example of things I write about to keep it simple, yet authentic. I think that a “life coach” or motivational speaker should have had some obstacles in ones life, to add to the authenticity of the approach offered by the coach/speaker. Now, I know that people often doubt that someone can change … their lifestyle or addiction(s), their attitude and behavior … perhaps even friends and profession or occupation, if it is causing some “issues” in one’s life. But enough about that, as I simply wanted to mention that I had a wonderful time Sunday at New Birth Baptist Church there in Miami’s Opa Locka Blvd. and the street named after Bishop Curry of the same church on 135th Street. It is interesting that I did my presentation with a group of adults that attend a friend’s Sunday “school” gathering after the sermon. So, one of the deacons, who turned out to be affiliated with the Tuskegee Airman, was not only present for the discussion entitled, “Africans, African Americans and Spirituality”, but participated fully in the discussion. He offered his insight into the “Rastafarian” group/religion as that was also one of the spiritual links developed by Africans as they were transplanted here in America under the institution of slavery, which was included in my presentation. So, it is only logical, based on what is to follow, that I mention and dedicate this e-mail to the honor of these “Airmen”, “The Red Tails”, many of whom are still alive today and are active in giving talks, making appearances and they even helped with accurate information in the making of the movie of the same title, “Red Tails”.

After the presentation, I went to the post office box for Educational Excellence and there was a correspondence from Coach Blake that included a pamphlet he signed and sent to me honoring the Tuskegee Airmen! Do you think that I am being reminded of their service to our country during World War II, in which Coach Blake served in the navy and witnessed much of their work from the ocean and into the air!? The booklet he sent me entitled, “Rising Above: Lessons Learned From The Legendary TUSKEGEE AIRMEN”, gives the historical overview of the segregation in the Armed Forces during World War II here in the USA. It covers how an instructor for one of the largest schools that trained civilian black pilots at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, C. Alfred “Chief” Anderson, took on the task of taking the then “First Lady”, Eleanor Roosevelt, on a flight as requested by her husband under pressure from civil rights activists seeking to end segregation. The flight was successful and Eleanor informed her husband of the skill of “Chief” at flying this plane, which led to FDR’s passing of a law to allow blacks to participate in the Army Air Corps. This was ONLY the beginning of the rise of the American Heroes of World War II known as “The Red Tails”, as the “all black” squadrons escorted the large and slow bombers to finally destroy the Nazi forces in Germany and the rest of Europe. Coach Blake has sent me a lot of information on these guys whom he hails as war heroes from a personal point of view as he actually witnessed their fine flying and heard testimonies of pilots who, at first didn’t want to get assistance from the “black pilots”, and in the end requested their assistance after the “Red Tails” had demonstrated an uncanny ability to protect those bombers and shoot enemy planes from the sky! Thanks, Coach Blake, my former boarding school basketball coach who resides in New Smyrna, FL in his retirement with his lovely wife, “Mrs. B”!

In keeping with the theme of Black History Month, may we “take our hats off” to these American Heroes, “The Red Tails”, and remember their relentless efforts to desegregate the armed forces, serve this country, and make a tremendous difference in the outcome of World War II.


John I. Cook, Director
Educational Excellence
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