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Airmen deserve praise

In any discussion of the history and accomplishments of black people in the United States, the Tuskegee Airmen deserve hearty praise.

Sgt. Harry Quinton, one of the original Tuskegee Airmen, earned a standing ovation at the Morgan Memorial Library on Saturday at the conclusion of a talk he gave on the history and accomplishments of the Tuskegee Airmen.

Before 1940, black people were barred from flying plans in the U.S. military. But close to the start of the United States’ involvement in World War II, civil rights organizations and the black press put their weight behind the cause, and soon a program was formed for an all-black pursuit squadron based in Tuskegee, Ala. The military selected Tuskegee Institute to train pilots because of its commitment to aeronautical training, the fact it already had the facilities and instructors as well as the climate for year-round flying, according to tuskegeeairmen.org.

The program eventually trained hundreds of pilots, navigators, bombardiers, maintenance and support staff, instructors and other personnel who kept the planes and pilots in the air.

The Tuskegee Airmen, however, still had to overcome segregation and prejudice both during and after their service. Officers were reprimanded for attempting to use the officers’ club at one of their bases. Some servicemen were denied their pay after they got out. And those were just a couple of the instances of discrimination that the servicemen experienced, Quinton told the gathering at the library on Saturday.

The history of the Tuskegee Airmen is a great and rich one indeed, but unfortunately, it is not very well known.

We would encourage everyone to read up on the Tuskegee Airmen during this Black History Month. We guarantee you will learn something new and be inspired.