In March 2018, I visited the Oakland Aviation Museum which features a multitude of large aircraft, including an original cargo plane utilized for the first installment of Steven Spielberg’s film Indiana Jones, and a variety of historical exhibits on aircraft used in World War I, World War II and other conflicts.
The museum had a “Black Americans in Aviation and Space” exhibit, which included the many African American men who served for the Army Air Force, for the first time in U.S. history, during World War II. In 1941, the U.S. Army authorized the training of African American pilots at the Tuskegee Army Airfield as an “experiment” since the the already trained Caucasian pilots were viewed as superior to their new counterparts. Therefore, due to racism of military superiors who maintained an experimental status of the group, the Tuskegee Airmen were not utilized for action overseas until African American leaders pressured the military leadership to send the airmen on a escort mission in Europe.
For a total of four years, African American airmen were trained at the Tuskegee Army Airfield, and they consisted of the 332nd Fighter Group and the 477th Bombardment Group. After the war, the Congress designated the airfield as the Tuskegee Army Airfield National Park.
In 2007, over 60 years after the end of World War II, all members of the Tuskegee Airmen were given the Congressional Medal of Honor at the United States Library of Congress.
While the Tuskegee Airmen were stationed in Seymour, Indiana at the Freeman Army Airfield, they were forced to sign an order to not enter an Officers Club that was restricted to whites only. Oliver Goodall, Robert T. McDaniel, and total of 160 other African American servicemen, decided to refuse the order. The airman were arrested for entering the club and disobeying their superiors. This act of civil disobedience, during The Freeman Field Mutiny, helped lead to the eventual desegregation of the U.S. armed forces before the Korean War.