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Tuskegee Airmen History - Research Paper Example

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History and Political Science: The Tuskegee Airmen. The 332nd Fighter Group, also known as the Tuskegee Airmen made history as the first African-Americans to pilot fighter planes for the U.S. Army Air Corps during the Second World War. (Tuskegee Airmen video, 2011)…
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Tuskegee Airmen History Research Paper
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Download file to see previous pages From the days approaching he first world war onwards, African American men had tried to become involved in the emerging discipline of air training, but the path was initially blocked by the planning bureaucrats when they tried to apply. The reason given in 1917 was that “No colored aero squadrons were being formed at the present time,... but, if later on, it was decided to form colored squadrons, recruiting officers would be notified to that effect.” Francis and Caso, 1997, p. 37) The uncomfortable truth of that era was that the War Department simply did not believe that African American men had the talent and ability to benefit from training as pilots. Besides this wholly unjustified prejudice concerning the qualities of African Americans, there was also a deep-seated commitment to segregation of white and African American people in all walks of life. The military could not conceive of an inter-racial force combining these different groups, as we have today in the modern navy, airforce and army, and so the only possible idea in their minds was a segregated unit for non-white groups. From the beginning of its existence, the U.S. Air Force was considered a profession only for the brightest and best students. It combined a highly technical training in all the skills needed for flight, with a demand for courage and exceptionally good judgement in difficult circumstances. Most airmen were graduates of respected colleges, and of course the general exclusion of African American students from most white colleges and universities made it difficult for this group to obtain even the basic prerequisites for entry. The Tuskegee Institute filled this gap by designing the first advanced courses specially tailored to prepare African American students for a career in flying. Civilian pilots and other trainees were recruited, and the types of training provided covered quite a range, including preparation for roles as airplane mechanic, aircraft armorer, aircraft supply and technical clerk, instrument and weather forecasting. (Francis and Caso, 1997, p. 55) One of the reasons for this expansion into African American training institues was the increasing need for qualified staff, but another was the efforts of teaching staff and potential trainees, especially in the Southern States to be allowed to take up an equal position along with other groups in defending their country in the case of war. The Second World War made it abundantly clear that the country needed to be equipped for defence and action in Europe and elsewhere, and this is perhaps what encouraged the planners to provide the resources for training. Despite the logical reasons for the Tuskegee programs, many people in government and in society at large remained to be convinced that African Americans could take up such vitally complex and difficult roles as flying in combat. A significant factor in overcoming these reservations was a visit by the President’s wife, Mrs Eleanor Roosevelt, to fly with Charles Alfred Anderson. “Thanks to his skill and obvious abilities, the First Lady returned to the White House convinced about the Blacks’ capabilities not only to fight in the Air Corps, but to fight as well in the Army and in the Navy.” (Francis and Caso, 1997, p. 31) While permission to train for the Air Corps was pushing ahead, things were not quite so positive in ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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