Lionel Richie and the cast of "Red Tails" at Tuskegee University on Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday 2012

I had an absolutely magnificent time Monday at Tuskegee University (TU) commemorating the Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday and the Tuskegee Airmen!  Celebrating the release of “Red Tails,” Tuskegee University hosted a weekend of activities honoring the civil rights leader and America’s first African American military pilots.   What a glorious occasion to be involved in such a historical moment recognizing these icons of American and African American history!  The excitement was accelerated by the entertainers who also attended this special occasion.  Tuskegee homeboys and TU alumni Tom Joyner and Lionel Richie participated in the festivities along with “Red Tails” cast members Terrence Howard, Nate Parker, David Oyelowo, Elijah Kelley, and director Anthony Hemingway!  What an event!!! (TU!!!!!  You know!!!!!!)

Tom Joyner at Tuskegee University's Martin Luther King, Jr. Convocation celebrating the Tuskegee Airmen

Released today, “Red Tails, depicts the heroic lives and achievements of the Tuskegee Airmen, America’s first African American fighter pilots.  Produced by George Lucas, the creator of the “Star Wars” Saga, “Red Tails” is a fictitious story that demonstrates the courage and patriotism of these African American men during World War II.   Fighting the dual challenges of discrimination in America and fascism abroad, the Tuskegee Airmen worked to achieve double victory through their valiant efforts in the military.  In fact, “Double Victory” is the name of the documentary which accompanies the movie.  With a cast of established as well as rising African American actors, “Red Tails” is a movie worthy of support.

The movie producers have invested a lot of effort in promoting the film.  In August, the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) showed the trailer and hosted a panel discussion about the movie at its annual convention , and in September the Congressional Black Caucus showed the movie trailer and “Double Victory” in its entirety as well as hosted a panel discussion at its Annual Legislative Conference.  Cuba Gooding, Jr. and Terrance Howard participated in both events.  Because I also participated in both events, I was highly anticipating the release of the movie.

"Red Tails" is coming to a theater near you on January 20, 2012!

Movies like “Red Tails” are important to the history and culture of America.  They challenge racial stereotypes that have depicted African Americans as lazy, cowardice, and unpatriotic and replace them with images of African Americans who are industrious, brave, and nationalistic.  No matter what the reviews may say about “Red Tails,” the movie is a small step forward in creating films that portray African Americans in a favorable light.  Is anyone else besides me tired of the gangsta flicks and buffoonery?  This is why there is a need to support movies such as “Red Tails,” so that more positive films can be produced about African Americans and their contributions to America and the world.  Moreover, with its success, “Red Tails” will create opportunities for other diverse groups to be seen in a positive light on the big screen, such as Mexican Americans, Japanese Americans, Native Americans and others, who also have an admirable history of distinguished service to our country.

It is about time that we celebrate the lives and contributions of the Tuskegee Airmen.  These African American men deserve America’s honor and respect.  It has taken America a long time to recognize these men in American history and in popular culture.  At TU’s Convocation Lionel Richie said it best,  “I cannot imagine not being recognized.  I get mad when I don’t have press the next day!”

Me at Tuskegee University celebrating the release of "Red Tails"

Take this weekend to check out “Red Tails”  and take your families, too.  If you like the movie, spread the word.  If you don’t like it, don’t say anything at all.   If after seeing the movie, you are inspired to learn more about the history of the Tuskegee Airmen, I suggest reading Todd Moye’s Freedom Flyers:  The Tuskegee Airmen of World War II.


Categories: Opinion pieces


  1. Comment by touch

    touch Reply January 22, 2012 at 4:55 pm

    Excellent Movie, maybe if more movies are shown of the gallant and respectable images of black people, we can replace the hip hop gangsta push that promoters are all to eager to support. My question and challenges is, why are not the black entertainers who control vast wealth, in the south building Studio’s and Making Movies.

    The South is giving every kind of tax concession. Instead we have the likes of Cosby, Russel Simmons, Pdiddy, Will Smith and others who are mega millionaires, but they are not expanding to work together to support film productions featuring the history in positive light about black people. They don’t gather to make positive Black commercials, these are all avenues that not only create and spread the image of positivity of black people, but it also creates opportunity.

    Opportunity for the writes, designers, and every skill set that is within the core of black culture, but we don’t have to confine it to that, we can use people of all ethnic make up in these production both in front and behind the camera.

    Our problem is our wealthy don’t build. Why have not some of the likes of Pdiddy who sells clothes to black people at inflated cost, which could be produced in America and he would still make a profit because of the excess cost of his goods.
    Where are the black people who establish digital tech business which gives black people an accessible pathway into digital growth.

    We lag because our wealthy do not reach back and create, they may give a few dollars to a charity here or there, but that benefits their tax status, but they are not building anything to employ people, nor do they build a legacy.

    Look at Motown, it set a trend in America, which should have remained an institution of Black Music Development, but the power and greed caused it to be sold out, rather than to be supported by other black wealthy people and the general public who could have invested if it had gone public.

    Short sight and person greed which remains, has caused us to loose over and over, because we don’t build legacy within what we do, once the wealth is there, we get lost in the fancy of material things.

    How many wealthy Athletes, have we seen result to be broke, because they did not invest to build legacy, they wanted to live lavish, and result to languish in bankruptcy.

    We can thank George Lucas for opening the door and leading the charge, but will our wealthy follow ?

    We have to think different in the 21st Century, the unemployment among the black population is over 20% based on what is said, but reality in the communities across this nation it is 30%, and if we factor in underemployment, which is predominant, it becomes astronomical.

    We allow the schools in many poor communities to remove Civics classes, Cultural Programs and Arts programming, and we have not said one word about it. Many schools now in minority areas don’t even have full circle sports programs.. But we accept this stripping away of these vital components to the minority educations, Sadly it has not even dawned on us as a society to question this.

    There should be no school in any Minority area which is without a internal Debate Program. which not only competes within but with their associate schools within their districts.

    We allow the system to push “Rote Memorization” for the sake of Test Taking.. when minorities learn by interactive engagement, discussion, explorations, and asking the who, the what, when, where and the most important Why”… We have taken this away and then wonder why our kids have become bored with school.

    Black people have always thirst to be American Innovators, but this is taken away and replaced by an Asian Model of Rote Memory Training. Instead of us creating and pushing to restore the civic, cultural and artistic things in our schools in our communities, we have a list of leadership in districts, who are more concerned about the label of their degree and what sorority they belong to and how much power they can wield. They totally forgot about the power and empowerment which is gained through delegation.

    We missed on crucial thins. during slavery we were taught to defeat each other, contest each other and turn each other in with hopes of gaining favor for doing so. What we should have learned with Civil Rights is the motivation to be and become ‘ENDORSER’S OF EACH OTHER, on all levels.
    We simply don’t do that. Constructive criticism is fine as long as its followed by an option and idea of course and actions. (as I demonstrated above with the mention of our black wealthy, I posed the question as to why they are not team working.)

    Spielberg partners and all the other massively successful white organization that prosper, do so because they work together to build both legal partnership and social cooperative partnerships, which can and many do function with economic production generation of every category.
    But what do we have, but a lot of wealthy black people who become too elite minded and want only the Mansion and the claim of others to have to submit to them in some condensing manner, simply to get acceptance or gain assistance.

    What they failed to get, is ‘We have not arrived” , we have more work to do today than we can imagine.
    Any Foreign National who comes here from any country other than a country of black people, is placed ahead of us in every category. Yet, we remain unaware.

    30 years ago, all the rave was the Japanese, because they held Americans Wealth and bought American bonds, at that time the Chinese were considered lesser than, but now 30 yrs later the Chinese are on top and the Japanese are second tier, but black people have not moved upward, but downwards on the socioeconomic plane.

    We have shows like the Unsung Hero’s, but many of those same individual paved the way and carried a message which supported us reaching this day. But we have no black model of mega company to promote them nor their body of work. We don’t ave the advertising power, because we have no black company that pushes to be and become a top national Advertising Promotion vehicle.

    GO to foreign nations which are prospering, you won’t see people hung on a fad that is 30 yrs old, such as Saggin clothes, We don’t know when to let go of a fad, and push to regain our stature and dignity as a culture.

    We have in many poor areas, 90% of the women wearing cheap wigs. ‘Why”.. does that not tell us that we have an esteem problem, does that not tell us that we are focused more on the external rather than developing the internal self and supporting the integrity of the whole of our being.

    Our young men still think a Car is the mark of success. Our women are caught in designer fashion and not one of the products provide in production jobs for black people, nor do these products feature black people in their promotional campaigns. But we certainly do a massive amount of FREE advertising for these companies.

    Why are we enslaving ourselves, The costume of saggin pants is nothing more than a representation of the slave in ragged non fitting clothes, women is wigs is the transformation from dirty head rags to synthetic strands made into wigs.

    But here again, we don;t have a media vehicle to push a different image or push different knowledge. All we get is a some crime drama in the ghetto, some laugh a minute make a buffoon sit comes as long as we play the comedic clown. Tyler Perry set up a model, but he does not get buy in from the lead black entertainers nor the investment of the lead black entertainer, nor the creative expanse these entertainers can bring. Who loose is the whole of the black culture.

    Tuskegee, has the stature to push and change the charge. It is a hub of information and has the scholars who can generate the material to push information for the cultural changes that is needed within the black communities.

    We need not exhibit any racial bigotry, but we must combat the racial containment that has been cast over 100s of years to contain and diminish the true capability of us, as a people, as a culture and as American Citizens.

  2. Comment by touch

    touch Reply January 22, 2012 at 5:17 pm

    We win when we push for change and support the positive things which help bring about that change.

    Martin Luther King took as a great distance with many supporters, but we have long been lacking in the continuing march forward to build and create and promote an economic equilibrium, unfortunately, we have gone from being the ‘out cast negro’, to being known for ‘ internal cultural murder of each others and “thug life” portrayals. We accept the pathetic comments of ‘Your babies daddy’, instead of Father of a child. We have women now willingly taking more pride in being a single parents than a family with a mother and father. We glamorize it rather than to change it and give our young people a solid dual parent foundations.
    The what about me, mentality? has destroyed the potential for many of these families to become a two parent family. We now have not only black men having to deal with conflict from the white established of industry and Business, he now is getting twice as much from his women who have forgotten the challenges presented and faced by lack men, is far different than the challenges faced by black women in the job sector.
    Black women pose no threat to the white business man, but black men do, black women do not become viewed with the same contempt in business as does the black man, but who should know this better than black women, unfortunately many have forgotten this very significant point and fact. No longer does the white establishment have to come in and break up the black home, they have found a new method to insure that it breaks up from within.
    We need to think deeper to learn better, but until we do, we doom ourselves to the destiny that was carved out by our historical oppressors.

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