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Tuskegee Airmen discuss service and racism

As part of Black History Month, Penn State Berks will host a presentation by two former Tuskegee Airmen, the country's first African American military airmen during World War II. Second Lieutenant Eugene Richardson Jr., a Penn State alumnus, and Roscoe D. Draper later became Tuskegee flight instructors. They will discuss their experiences on Wednesday, February 3, 2010, at 1:00 p.m. in the Perkins Student Center Auditorium. This event is free and open to the public.

From 1941 through 1946, more than 900 pilots graduated from the Tuskegee Army Air Field in Tuskegee Alabama, receiving commissions and pilot wings. Richardson and Draper will tell the audience what it was like for African Americans who wanted to serve their country as airmen during World War II, a time when discrimination was rampant and there were many people who thought that Black men lacked intelligence, skill, courage, and patriotism.

While some of the airmen were stationed in North Africa and Italy from April 1943 to July 1944, others were stationed in the United States. The airmen stationed in the U.S. endured a great deal of racism. Against Army regulations, these highly trained officers were denied entrance to any of the officers' clubs. After an altercation about denied entrance, they were transferred to Godman Field, Kentucky, where the hostility continued. When Black officers tried to enter Freeman Field Officers' Club, more than 100 were arrested and charged with insubordination and ordered to face court martial.

The Tuskegee Airmen were the subject of many films, including The Tuskegee Airmen (1996), a film starring Laurence Fishburne, which was produced and aired by HBO.

This presentation is part of the Penn State Berks Multicultural Program. For more information, contact Karen Kihurani, Coordinator of the Multicultural Program at 610-396-6080 or via e-mail at kek5@psu.edu
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