Interviewing a Tuskegee Airman

Today we had a very special treat: an interview with Tuskegee Airman, Alexander Jefferson, and author of Red Tail Captured, Red Tail Free. This program was made possible because of coordination by Gail Desler, hosting by Wayne RESA, and bridging and facilitation by Berrien RESA. Thanks Gail, for sharing this opportunity with us!

Alexander Jefferson, Tuskegee AirmanHere is a sample of the students’ questions:

  • Why was your squad so successful?
  • Was it hard to leave home and go to war?
  • What was your experience when you came home?
  • What is your opinion of how the world turned out today?
  • I’m an aspiring pilot, and I want to know did you enjoy being a pilot?
  • What were the conditions like inside the plane?

Some of my favorite moments were:

  • In talking about segregation and civil rights: “We helped to change this country.”
  • One student mumbled their question and he gave her quite a little lecture and told her to speak up. It was pretty funny. All the kids laughed. You could tell he was a teacher for 35 years.
  • Partway through the videoconference, a conversation broke out with two people visiting at the school – Mrs. Edith Roberts, widow of George S. “Spanky” Roberts, and Mr. George Porter, Crew Chief at McClellan AFB. They talked about an invitation to Washington and I googled and found out that the Tuskegee Airmen got a special invitation to the inauguration. Mrs. Roberts didn’t get an invitation though, and she mentioned how once their airmen have passed on, people forget about them. I’m thinking though, that it would be so fascinating to hear their side of the stories.

The interview was incredible, and I think we’ll probably be scheduling a TWICE ASK program with Mr. Jefferson sometime soon. In the meantime, check out the streaming recording.

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