Soon, inside the New England Air Museum, “The Tuskegee Airmen: Their Untold Stories” will be on full display.
The Black fighter and bomber pilots were among the heroes of World War II, making the choice to go to war in defense of American interests, when their own nation wouldn’t allow them the rights and freedoms declared by its forefathers.
The fullness of their experience and that sacrifice will be shown here when the exhibit launches in the spring.
“You’ll find out the legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen, who were they? They were extraordinary to begin. They were extraordinarily accomplished. What do we mean they fought two wars: one against the Germans at that time. The other against racism,” said Stephanie Abrams, president & CEO of New England Air Museum.
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Abrams is among the of museum officials and supporters fundraising to help make the exhibition a reality next spring. Once it’s open, it will be the largest and most expensive exhibit in the museum’s history, which already counts about 100 aircraft among its collection. Among the supporters, Bill Costen, a board member and the first Black hot air balloon Master pilot, who counts Tuskegee Airman Lemuel Custis among his friends.
The museum said the exhibit will be immersive, with videos, a theater, uniforms and other artifacts. Already on display is a Boeing Stearman PT-17, which was the original aircraft the Airmen first trained in.
“Painted and restored exactly as it would have looked when it served at Tuskegee Airfield. It’s a story that we are almost obligated to try to tell the public. To let them know that there was a group called the Tuskegee Airmen and what they did and what they faced,” said Nick Hurley, the museum’s curator.
As they grow support for the exhibit, they're interviewing and recording the surviving Airmen as well as their children.
“By highlighting these extraordinary accomplishments by these African American success stories and giants of WWII, it really helps to enforce not only the unfairness that they faced, but the talent that’s there when given a chance, excellence will shine through,” said John W. Rogers Jr, chairman of Ariel Investments, and son of Airman John W. Rogers.
To Support the museum’s fundraising effort for “The Tuskegee Airmen: Their Untold Stories," click here.