And You Thought It Was Safe(?)


Red Tails (2012)
Nice outfits.

Nice outfits.

Confession time, everyone. Time to let you all know that, despite barely mentioned it, I’ve spent the last seven years of my life dreading the release of Red Tails. This dramatization of the Tuskegee Airman story – the story of an all-black unit of fighter pilots trained to fly and fight for their country at the eponymous air field in central Alabama –  is one of the many, many, many passion projects George Lucas shelved back in the 90s so he could focus on making…well…you know…those movies.

But unlike every other reformed Lucasfilm fan in existence, my dread came with its own personal baggage. You see, this

(Left to right) William A. Campbell, Willie Ashley, Langston Caldwell, Herbert Clark, George Boiling, Charles B. Hall, Graham Mitchell, Herbert Carter, Louis Purnell, Graham Smith, Allen G. Lane, Spann Watson, Faythe McGinnis, James T. Wiley, and Irwin Lawrence. (Courtesy Herbert E. Carter)

(Left to right) William A. Campbell, Willie Ashley, Langston Caldwell, Herbert Clark, George Boiling, Charles B. Hall, Graham Mitchell, Herbert Carter, Louis Purnell, Graham Smith, Allen G. Lane, Spann Watson, Faythe McGinnis, James T. Wiley, and Irwin Lawrence. (Courtesy Herbert E. Carter)

is a picture of my grandfather, Herbert E. Carter (eighth from the left, front and center), with his graduating class at Tuskegee Army Air Field in July, 1942. Thanks to racist foot-dragging within the War Department, it took ten months for his squadron to reach French Morocco. As the commanding officer of the Army Air Forces, General Hap Arnold, explained at the time, “Negro pilots cannot be used in our present Air Corps units since this would result in Negro officers serving over white enlisted men creating an impossible social situation.” Continue reading

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