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Tuskegee Airmen

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Illustrated and Designed By
Christian Alas
Sound By
Margarita Onofre

Tuskegee Airmen

The U.S. Housing Authority and Agricultural Adjustment Administration were racially discriminatory. As a result of this discrimination, two-thirds of all black Americans were unemployed by 1935.

However, World War II brought many changes for black Americans. The Great Depression had been especially difficult on black agricultural workers in the South. The President began fighting racial discrimination at the urging of Eleanor Roosevelt and black civil rights leaders.

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Since millions of men joined the armed forces when the U.S. entered World War II, millions of workers were needed to work in factories. New employment opportunities emerged for blacks due to this increased need for workers. Unfortunately, discrimination in the workplace still continued. In 1941, President Roosevelt signed an executive order forbidding discrimination in federal jobs and defense contracts when black leaders, such as A. Philip Randolph, threatened to march on Washington.

There were over 920,000 blacks serving in the armed forces with 7,700 serving as officers. Unfortunately, the blacks were still assigned to segregated units. Col. Benjamin O. Davis became the first black general in U.S. history when he was promoted to the rank of U.S. Army General by President Roosevelt.

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The U.S. Navy was the first to accept black Americans into desegregated general services and was then followed by the Marines and finally the U.S. Coast Guard. However, the United States Air Force remained segregated until the end of the war. Nevertheless, it was the all-black Tuskegee Fighting Squadron, known as the 99th Squadron and later the larger 332nd Unit, that showed best how wrong both the general public and military were in doubting the fighting capabilities of black Americans.

Black airmen had damaged or destroyed 409 enemy aircraft. The black airmen flew 15,553 sorties and 1,578 missions. They served as heavy bomber escorts for 200 of these missions deep into Germany, yet not a single one of their heavy bombers was ever destroyed by enemy fire. As a result of this, they were presented with 150 Distinguished Flying Crosses and 744 air medals. These men were among the most highly decorated pilots in World War II.

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Find the vocabulary words (in bold), write them below, and find the definition of each in a dictionary.

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Write 5 sentences using some of the vocabulary words.

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Write one sentence to describe the history of Tuskegee Airmen for each area below:

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Where?

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Tuskegee Airmen