1941 January 16

War Department Creates Tuskegee Airmen


The Tuskegee Airmen was a special unit of African-American pilots in the then-segregated U.S. Army Air Force during World War II. The creation of the Tuskegee Airmen Group has always been regarded as a major milestone in African-American history. A total of 992 pilots were trained at Tuskegee, Alabama, and 150 lost their lives either in combat or through accidents. Civil rights groups had been agitating for racial integration of the armed services in the years before Pearl Harbor.

Civil rights leader A. Philip Randolph confronted President Franklin D. Roosevelt in the White House on September 27, 1940, over his failure to enforce a non-discrimination clause in the 1940 selective service act, but without success.

American armed forces remained racially segregated until Present Harry Truman by executive order ordered them integrated on July 26, 1948.

Visit the Tuskegee Airmen National Historical Museum: http://www.tuskegeeairmennationalmuseum.org/

Read: J. Todd Moye, Freedom Flyers: The Tuskegee Airmen of World War II (2010)

Learn about the Tuskegee Airmen at the FDR Library (with original documents): http://www.fdrlibrary.marist.edu/archives/pdfs/tuskegee.pdf

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