The Tuskegee Airmen

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The Tuskegee Airmen During the 1920's and 1930's in the United States, segregation for the black Americans was rampant. Blacks were being turned away from certain restaurants, and ones they were allowed in had a separate seating section. Blacks had to sit in the back of the bus. They had to use separate bathrooms and go to all-black schools. This translated to the military machine as well. Blacks were not mixed with whites in units. Black soldiers could serve under a white commander, but whites never served under a black commander. This all changed in 1940, and helped to pave the way for equality. Under the pressure of activist groups and President Franklin Roosevelt, the United States Army Air Corps (USAAC), who had not allowed black Americans entrance into its academy, finally gave in and allowed blacks to enroll for the flight program. They did this grudgingly though, fearing the programs would fail. The Army’s decisions about blacks in its ranks were still influenced by a 1925 Army War College report called The Use of Negro Manpower in War. The 67-page report was full of cruel and untrue generalizations about the behavior of black men during wartime and the black race in general (1). The stage was set in Tuskegee Alabama, and the Tuskegee Airmen were born. The Tuskegee Airmen were called so because the first unit of black American USAAC enrollees were coined The Tuskegee Experiment. As mentioned above, Army Air Corp brass saw it as a failure. The unit of the Tuskegee Airmen was the 99th Fighter Squadron. The change the African American pilots faced as they went from a training atmosphere to a theater of war was not always smooth or pleasant. Segregation was still abound in the United States, and many white pilots and soldiers did not want to fight side by side with their black counterparts. The 99th Fighter Squadron was tasked with the Allied forces in
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