The San Francisco Board of Supervisors today honored several members of the Tuskegee Airmen, an all-black group of military pilots who flew in World War II.
Seven airmen received commendations from the board at this afternoon’s meeting, which comes days after the release of “Red Tails,” a George Lucas-produced film about the group.
The Tuskegee Airmen were the first group of black pilots to fly planes in the U.S. military, serving at a time when much of the country still had policies of segregation.
The group earned the nickname “red tails” because they painted the tails of their planes red to advertise that they were black pilots.
LeRoy Gillead, James Goodwin, Clyde Grimes, Richard Harder, Harold Hoskins, James Warren and Les Williams were the seven airmen honored at today’s meeting.
They are part of the Bay Area-based William “Bill” Campbell chapter of the group.
Supervisor Malia Cohen, the lone black member of the Board of Supervisors, began to tear up while speaking about the group.
“If it wasn’t for your work, I wouldn’t be here,” Cohen said.
She said that Lucas, the creator of famous movie franchises like “Star Wars” and “Indiana Jones,” had trouble getting funding for “Red Tails” from people who told him that people were not interested in a movie with an all-black cast.
However, she noted that the movie debuted in second place nationwide, earning $18 million in its first weekend.
Cohen said she wanted to honor the airmen before Black History Month in February because “black history is American history and it deserves to be celebrated every month of the year.”
Dan McMenamin, Bay City News