News / Arts & Entertainment

    'Red Tails' Tells Story of Black WWII Pilots

    Alan Silverman

    The true story of black American fighter pilots in World War II inspired the new action film Red Tails, produced by George Lucas of Star Wars fame.

    "We have a right to fight for our country, the same as every other American."

    Among the millions of Americans who joined up in World War II, black soldiers found themselves in a racially segregated Army, mostly restricted to menial jobs away from the front lines. Driven by a need for skilled pilots and political pressure from early civil rights activists, the Army launched an experiment in 1941 to build an all-black squadron.



    Nicknamed the "Tuskegee Airmen" for their Alabama training base, they earned admiration for their success in Europe flying fighter planes painted with distinctive "Red Tails" to be sure the Nazi pilots knew they were being shot down by black men.

    "Bogeys [enemy aircraft] inbound, 12 o'clock!"
    "They're coming in mighty fast."
    "Go, 'Lightning,' I'm on one."
    "I'm behind you …ha!"
    "Congratulations Captain, you are the first Negro to shoot down a 'Jerry' (German)
    .

    Watch a Related Report by Kane Farabaugh:



    The radio banter between the pilots may sound familiar to fans of the "Star Wars" movies. Producer George Lucas adapted World War II lingo and swagger to his famous space saga.

    Red Tails has long been a dream project of his, but after more than 20 years of trying to convince studios to make it, he spent $58 million of his own money on production and another $35 million to get it distributed to theaters. Lucas disagreed with the arguments from Hollywood executives that Red Tails would not find an audience.

    "Just like Star Wars, it's a big action picture, lots of dogfights, lots of excitement. But it's basically about a bunch of kids that went through an amazing journey and all came out heroes."

    Co-star David Oyelowo explains that, while the characters are fictitious, they are all based on the real pilots and their accomplisments.

    "What they did was dramatic enough that we didn't have to change it that much,"  Oyelowo says.

    Oyelowo admits that growing up in England he had never heard of the "Tuskegee Airmen." On the other hand, American actor Terrence Howard, who plays the squadron commander, says he did know about their heroism under fire.

    "I had no idea that they were everyday people. You hear about the "Tuskegee Airmen" - the Red Tails - and they seemed like a very select, legendary group. But we meet them when they were human and flesh and blood before they became legendary," Howard says.

    A handful of surviving "Tuskegee Airmen" were advisors on the film, including retired doctor Roscoe Brown.

    "Since we've been trying to do this for 65 years, we're really gratified that at last it has happened," says Brown. "And because of Red Tails people will know about us that didn't know before."

    The Red Tails flew thousands of sorties in 1944 and '45 and became one of the most highly decorated units in American military history. The film, directed by Anthony Hemingway, is a dramatized version of their story, but the combat exploits it depicts are based on true events.

    You May Like

    Post-White House, Obamas to Rent Washington Mansion

    Nine-bedroom home is 3 kilometers from Oval Office, near capital's Embassy Row; rent estimated at around $22,000 a month

    Red Planet? Not so much!

    New research suggest that Mars is in a warm period between cyclical ice ages, and that during Ice Age Maximum over 500,000 years ago, the red planet was decidedly ice, and much whiter to the naked eye.

    Taj Mahal Battles New Threat from Insects

    Swarms of insects are proliferating in the heavily contaminated waters of the Yamuna River, which flows behind the 17th century monument

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora

    New in Music Alley

    Take It From The Top: Stanley Jordani
    || 0:00:00
    ...  
     
    X
    May 17, 2016 5:01 PM
    Jazz fusion artist, Stanley Jordan is known for his touch technique which allows him to play melodies and chords simultaneously. He can also play two different guitars or a guitar and piano at the same time.

    Jazz fusion artist, Stanley Jordan is known for his touch technique which allows him to play melodies and chords simultaneously.  He can also play two different guitars or a guitar and piano at the same time.

     

     

     

     

    Blogs

    African Music Treasures