The mission of The Department of Afro-American Research Arts and Culture to identify the global significance of the creative contributions pioneered by an international diaspora of Blackness
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Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Tuskegee Airmen (1995, TV Movie)

"The Tuskegee Airmen" (1995) was a made-for-television historical drama aired on HBO. Robert Markowitz was responsible for the direction, and Paris Qualles, Trey Ellis, and Ron Hutchinson wrote the screenplay based on the story from T.S. Cook and R. Wayland Williams. The movie illustrates some of the trials and tribulations black men endured to enlist and earn their way to becoming fighter pilots during World War II. The film stars an excellent cast, including Laurence Fishburne, Courtney B. Vance, Allen Payne, Malcolm Jamal Warner, Andre Braugher, Cuba Gooding Jr., Mekhi Phifer, Christopher McDonald, John Lithgow, and Daniel Hugh Kelly.

Before the Tuskegee Airmen, no African American had been a U.S. military pilot. Then, in 1941, the Army Air Corps (Army Air Forces) granted a contract to Tuskegee Institute to conduct a primary flight school at Moton Field. Hence, Tuskegee Institute was one of the few American institutions - and the only African American institution - to own, develop, and control facilities for military flight instruction. However, upon entering training, the aspiring airmen faced segregation and mistrust by higher rankings due to racism. As a result, the cadets didn't have the best equipment and technology to start, but against many odds, they became successful military pilots and heroes in WWII.

The movie is a historical drama, so most leading characters do not represent real people. However, some former airmen had periodic scenes in the film. The movie won several Primetime Emmys and earned many nominations as well. Robbi Reed won for Outstanding Casting for a Miniseries or a Special. Laurence Fishburne earned a nomination for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Special, and Andre Braugher earned a nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Special.

It's an excellent movie that introduces people to black history in the American military. The performances are fantastic, and the visual effects and editing will captivate you. I highly recommend this movie for viewing.

Director: Robert Markowitz
Writers: Paris Qualles, Trey Ellis, Ron Hutchinson, R. Wayland Williams, T.S. Cook

Starring Laurence Fishburne, Allen Payne, Malcolm-Jamal Warner, Courtney B. Vance, Andre Braugher, Christopher McDonald, Daniel Hugh, John Lithgow, Cuba Gooding Jr., Mekhi Phifer, Christopher Bevins, Ed Lauter, Doug Kruse, Janet MacLachlan, Rosemary Murphy

In this semi-fictionalized account of the Tuskegee Airmen, the first all-African-American Air Force squadron during World War II, the film centers on ambitious young pilot Hannibal Lee (Laurence Fishburne). Despite initial reluctance by higher-ranking white officers, Lee, Walter Peoples (Allen Payne), Leroy Cappy (Malcolm-Jamal Warner), and others are deployed into combat. As the successful missions mounted, the Tuskegee Airmen developed a reputation as an able, fearsome group of pilots.