I know I would be thrilled.
Friday, this dream will become a reality for the Tuskegee Airmen when the new movie “Red Tails” is released to theaters across the country.
George Lucas’ “Red Tails” highlights the Tuskegee Airmen’s 332nd Fighter Group, a group of African-American pilots who escorted bombers during World War II. They successfully had one of the lowest loss records unsurpassed by any other fighter group
LaGrange native Elijah Kelley, who plays Samuel “Joker” George in the film, has done an outstanding job bringing the story of these American heroes to life.
I am a 2008 LaGrange High graduate and current senior public relations major at Auburn University. During the fall 2011 semester, I researched the Tuskegee Airmen and interviewed multiple experts for my feature writing journalism class.
My stories about the Airmen have gone on to be published in various newspapers. As a result, I was able to cover a “Red Tails” events this past weekend for the Tuskegee News.
The events, Jan. 14-16 at Tuskegee University, included: screenings of the Lucas documentary “Double Victory,” panel discussions with Tuskegee Airmen, a flight simulator ride, block party, chapel service, MLK Celebration, Jazz Brunch and private screenings of “Red Tails.” Guests included Airmen, their friends and family, and other special guests including 100-year-old civil rights leader Amelia Boynton Robinson, radio host Tom Joyner, musician Lionel Richie and “Red Tails” actors.
I was able to attend two screenings of the movie and each ended with a standing ovation. Kelley’s acting in the movie was outstanding, but even more outstanding was his personality.
Throughout the weekend, Kelley conducted himself in an extremely professional manner. He took time to speak with me, and I can honestly say that he is one of the nicest people you will meet.
“We want the movie to do well in the box office and make lots of money,” Kelley said. “But, seeing the looks on the Tuskegee Airmen’s faces after seeing the movie and to see them affected by the work that we did was by far the most amazing reward.”
Through researching the Tuskegee Airmen, I have learned so much and have had many memorable experiences, but seeing the pride in the Airmen’s faces this weekend was something I will never forget, too.
I believe these American heroes should be honored for the battles they fought not only in the air against the enemy, but also at home against racism.
It saddens me that some people do not know who the Tuskegee Airmen are, but I hope “Red Tails” will be a catalyst for a new generation to learn about them. I want to thank Kelley for representing the Airmen well and playing a part in keeping their legacy alive.
I encourage everyone to come to the Legacy Museum and Troup County Archives from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday to see Kelley and an exhibit on the Tuskegee Airmen. Then, everyone needs to pack the movie theater and see “Red Tails” to support our hometown hero, Elijah Kelley, and our American heroes, the Tuskegee Airmen.
Kristin Oliver is a 2008 LaGrange High graduate and senior at Auburn University studying public relations.