A new documentary, Tuskegee Airmen: Legacy of Courage, explores the impact America’s first Black military pilots had on the nation’s history and how their contributions and sacrifices inspired the next generation of activists fighting for racial equality and basic human rights. The History Channel one-hour film that was executive produced and narrated by Good Morning America anchor Robin Roberts premieres tonight at 8 p.m.
Prior to the summer of 1941, Black soldiers were barred from learning to fly military planes, but that changed when the nation’s very first class of Black fighter pilots began training at the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. Their significant contributions and sacrifices not only helped the U.S. and her allies defeat the Axis Powers in World War II, but they also led to the eventual desegregation of the U.S. armed forces and inspired the next generation to demand racial equality, desegregation across the nation, and to correct the ills brought about by America’s original sin, the enslavement of fellow humans for economic gain. Tuskegee Airmen: Legacy of Courage will celebrate the achievements of this brave group of Black men through archival and exclusive footage, imagery, and commentary and anecdotes from notable figures such as Tuskegee Airman Fighter Pilot General Charles McGee, Lt. Colonel James Harvey, the late Franklin J. Macon, activist Tamika Mallory, Reverend Al Sharpton, and Red Tails actors Elijah Kelley and Tristan Wilds.
Roberts has a deeply personal connection to this project beyond serving as an executive producer and narrator. Her late father was a Tuskegee Airman.
“The legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen is one that I hold extremely close to my heart, and I am thrilled to partner with The History Channel to tell their stories,” said Roberts in a press release. “My father, Colonel Lawrence E. Roberts, was a Tuskegee Airman, and their service helped pave the way for the Civil Rights Movement and contributed to the end of segregation in the military.”
Roberts and John R. Green executive produced Tuskegee Airmen: Legacy of Courage through Rock’n Robin Productions. Reni Calister is co-executive producer, and Mary E. Donahue served as executive producer for The History Channel.
Also in celebration of Black History Month, The History Channel launched on Feb. 1 an extension of its award-winning campaign, Save Our History, by spotlighting everyday people who’ve impacted and shaped our communities and Black History. But the network needs your help gathering these stories. Here’s how you can participate:
“Family photos and videos are some of the most meaningful ways people connect to history and the network is calling on viewers to share their own piece of family history – no matter how big or small. Whether it be a grandfather who participated in the Civil Rights Movement or served in the U.S. military, or an aunt who went to a famous concert that shaped Black culture, or helped desegregate our nation, everyday Americans forged change. Viewers are encouraged to upload a photo or video to Instagram or Twitter using #SaveOurHistory @HISTORY and The History Channel will help tell these stories and preserve this content for future generations. Several stories will be chosen to be featured on the network’s linear and social media platforms throughout February and beyond. Roberts will kick off the campaign by sharing her personal story about her history hero – her father – who served during WWII as a Tuskegee Airman. ‘Save Our History’ is The History Channel’s ongoing public outreach campaign dedicated to preserving history and to date has helped preserve historic sites and stories nationwide.”