Black History: A Journey Too Tuskegee Airman
by William Jackson, M.Edu
A 16 hour drive turned into a discovery of
historical information that brought a new found
enlightenment and maturing of cultural pride.
Education does not always come from the
classroom and school
house, it comes from exposure to historical information and people,
involvement in the community, reflections of accomplishments,
acknowledgement that there still is work that needs to be done
in our communities.
Black history education is a mandate for Florida schools, but reality
has shown it is rarely enforced and encouraged. The question remains
why do Blacks allow this? Are Blacks comfortable enough to forget the
struggles of those before them, have they forgotten that slavery was
not too long ago and seeking an education was perilous with
potential death, amputation, rape and disfigurement, or have
Blacks convinced themselves that they have finally arrived in a world of
total equality and equitability?
It is clear that Black children
don’t know their history and are
caught in a desert of misinformation,
mis-direction of facts and the gradual
subliminal dumbing down of their
historical importance and relevance.
When talking to Black children I
encourage them as a Black educator
to put down the video games,
turn off the Hip Hop music, change the
channel from music videos to educational programming and disconnect
from Social Media. “To free their minds” as Morpheus in “The Matrix”
These senseless media distractions are draining the intellectual abilities
of Black children and separating Black families. I’m not criticizing or saying
just Blacks are affected, but Black children are in economic distress and
social challenges like homelessness. If there is any doubt in these statements
ask a Black child in your respective city and community questions similar
to these I have asked Black children in Jacksonville, Florida.
1. When is Black History Month, 2. Who is the first Black Mayor of your
city, 3. Name three schools named after African Americans, 4. Who was
Carter G. Woodson, 5. Who was Asa Philip Randolph, 6. Where was the
Harlem of the South, 7. Who is Rodney Hurst and what book did he write,
8. Who is the Black man from Haiti that defeated Napoleon, 9. Who do
you know that is Black and owns their own business, 10. Name three
HBCU’s and what state are they in?
These are relatively easy questions
that Black high school and middle school
students should know. Black students
should be excited to tell you the
answers, they should look in your eyes
with the fire of cultural pride and
higher order thinking that raises them
to a level of enlightened
cognitive and even spiritual elevation.
Malcolm X, Carter G. Woodson, and
Fredrick Douglas to name a few were
passionate about education, they were determined in their own ways that,
“by any means necessary”( Malcolm X) they would bring enlightenment to
My enlightenment came as I drove on I95 in South Carolina: I noticed a sign
providing directions to the Tuskegee Airman’s Monument. Excitedly I took
the exit at Walterboro, driving a few short miles I discovered the Monument
that gave me an unexpected chill of pride and respect for discovering this
Monument I was embarrassed I did not know was here.
The Tuskegee Monument is respectfully arranged to provide information that
displays the professionalism, Esprit de Corp and unity of these amazing pilots,
mechanics and support personnel. Very little is actually known about the
training, development and engineering that went into the creating of a unit
that the Germans feared and respected.
Black children should understand that their access to educational resources,
economic employment, cultural pride and unity is the result of men like
those of the Tuskegee Airman. They showed that they had the right attitude,
abilities and talents to overcome not just the elements of aerial combat,
rigors of military service, but also fought racism, prejudice and hatred because
of their color.
To honor these men and even women for their accomplishments Black
children should learn as much Black history as possible, not waiting on
others to spoon feed them from another cultural pot, but from a hearty
bowl of truth and cultural richness that awakens the mind and
stirs the soul to be a part of something bigger than they individually are.
The Tuskegee Monument in
Walterboro, South Carolina should
be a place to stop for reflection,
dedication and honoring the brave souls that
fought for all our freedoms.
Tuskegee Airmen Monument
Tuskegee Airmen Monument