Tuskegee Airmen go to the movies

Leslie Odom Jr, Michael B. Jordan, Nate Parker, Kevin Phillips, David Oyelowo and Elijah Kelley in Red Tails. Photo courtesy of Lucasfilm Ltd.

Red Tails, the movie about the Tuskegee Airmen that was written by George Lucas and directed by Anthony Hemingway (Treme), will be out in theatres January 20, 2012. It stars Terrence Howard, Cuba Gooding Jr., and a slew of young up-and-comers including David Oyelowo (The Help) and Michael B. Jordan (Parenthood).

George Lucas, the executive producer of “Red Tails,” said in a statement: “I’ve wanted to do this film for a great many years. So it is especially gratifying to see it all come together.” He added: “The Tuskegee Airmen were such superb pilots that it was essential for us to create visual effects that would live up to their heroism and put audiences in the cockpit with them. They were only in their early 20s when they performed these amazing feats. They became the best of the best — the top guns.”

If you want to learn more America’s first black fighter pilots, check out The Tuskegee Airmen: An Illustrated History: 1939-1949 by Joseph Caver, Jerome Ennels, and Daniel Haulman (NewSouth Books). This book uses captioned photographs to trace the airmen through the stages of training, deployment, and combat actions in North Africa, Italy, and Germany. Included for the first time are depictions of the critical support roles of doctors, nurses, mechanics, navigators, weathermen, parachute riggers, and other personnel, all of whom contributed to the airmen’s success, and many of whom went on to help complete the establishment of the 477th Composite Group.

View the movie trailer here, or catch an interview with George Lucas on the Daily Show (air date: January 9, 2012).

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