Black History Month Starts Early

This article comes courtesy of Lett's Community Center.

Normally the second week of February, the 5th thru 11th is the time to celebrate and recognize the many outstanding social contributions and achievements of Black Americans. This year the celebration begins early in late January when a group of 25 youth and teens from the Letts Community Center’s after School Program will take a fieldtrip to premiere the motion picture called, “Red Tails”. The inspiration for this fieldtrip was sparked by Mrs. Jennie Washington a senior patron at the center who presented documentary footage about the Tuskegee Airmen pioneers.

The movie tells the story about the African American men from the experimental Tuskegee Institute Training Program. The movie focuses on the exploits of the 332nd Fighter Group based at the Ramitelli air base in Italy during World War II. As the war continues to take its toll on Allied forces, the Pentagon base has no recourse but to consider unorthodox options- including the untried and untested Negro pilots of the Tuskegee training program. They are given the ultimate chance to show their courage. Against all odds theses pilots escort bombers on vital mission in enemy territory, shoot down German air crafts, and strafe targets such as trains and ships whenever possible. The movie’s title comes from the distinctive red tails of their P51 Mustang airplanes. Theses men fought two wars; one for their country with distinction, and the one at home against military Jim Crow racism and discrimination.

This unique fieldtrip was planned by the staff to honor Mrs. Jennie Washington for her service as a civilian employee in the pex department at the Tuskegee Airmen’s Corps base in Alabama during World II. A replica of the Congressional Gold Medal was presented to her, in honor of her husband Thomas who was one of the highly decorated war veterans. Over 300 Tuskegee Airmen were awarded the medal in 2007 for their service by former President George W. Bush. Mrs. Jennie Washington attended the ceremony on behalf of her deceased husband, Thomas Washington. The original medial is displayed at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

The Lansing Parks & Recreation Department, Letts Citizen Advisory board, and the Lansing Association of Black Social Workers are proud sponsor of the “Red Tails”, project. Before Black History Month ends other leisure recreational activities have been planned youth or public to enjoy at the Letts Community Center. For further information call 483-4311

We have some former Tuskegee Airmen in the neighborhood, and the film has received wonderful reviews.  It's something to consider seeing.