A Lesson on Flight & Freedom


As a part of their studies on American History, Robert Frost Middle School students received a lesson in United States history and warfare from the Tuskegee Airmen. The Tuskegee Airmen were America's first African American fighter pilots who were trained in Tuskegee, Alabama during World War II. They flew during a time when many people believed that black men lacked the intelligence, skill, courage and patriotism to represent the U.S. in war, and they worked hard to overcome these negative stereotypes while facing the obvious challenges of combat.

The airmen veterans Victor Terrelonge and William Wheeler spoke to students about the intense physical training and mental preparation in readying for war, as well as tales of discrimination and prejudice. They described the camaraderie of their unit and the people who risked social ridicule to support them and their heroic mission. By the end of World War II, the Tuskegee Airmen had destroyed or damaged more than 400 enemy aircraft, but just as important were their contributions in breaking down the racial barriers among the armed forces in the United States.