African-American Studies

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Tuskegee Airmen refers to a group of African-Americans who fought in the Second World War (Wynn, 2010). The 99th fighter squadron was the first African-American fighting unit in combat. In 1943, the group was deployed from Tuskegee to North Africa, flying P-40s fighters. The group was responsible for the protection of America’s allied ships in the Mediterranean. While attached to other white fighter groups, the Tuskegee joined the P-40s squadrons and together attacked rival bases across the Pantelleria and Silicy islands. The combatants had successful aerial victories and considerably protected the US ground forces from rival aircrafts’ attacks (Wynn, 2010).

In 1944, using P- 39s aircrafts, the group successfully raided Italians battlefields. Towards the end of 1944, the Tuskegee Airmen operations changed. The group began escorting the heavy bombers deep into the enemies’ territories (Wynn, 2010). Flying the P-47s and P-51s, the air fighters shot down several enemy fighter aircrafts. In 1945, Tuskegee Airmen embarked on one of their longest fighter escort mission. During this operation, the group shot down numerous Germans aircrafts that were more sophisticated than their mustangs. On July 24, the Airmen, outnumbered, flew into the German territories and successfully destroyed four enemy aircrafts without any losses on their side. Four days later, despite being outnumbered by the German aircrafts, the group successfully shot down eight enemy aircrafts. Months later, before the end of the war, Tuskegee aviators successfully attacked several enemy aircrafts enhancing ground attack missions. They mounted effective defence foe America and its allies’ bombers (Wynn, 2010). On March 31st 1945, the Tuskegee’s Red Tails destroyed 13 German aircrafts making one of their most successful operations in war. Towards the end of 1945, Tuskegee Airmen had destroyed 150 enemy aircrafts and shot down 111 aircrafts. Similarly, the combatants destroyed more than 600 enemy military locomotives and submerged one German destroyer together with other 40 barges and boats (Wynn, 2010). This outstanding success significantly affected Germans’ military operation and their allied forces. The attacks on German forces eventually resulted in its defeat. Following Germany’s surrender, the Second World War ended as the Tuskegee airfield operations declined.

During the Second World War, the African-Americans protests against discrimination increased drastically. African-Americans constituted nearly a million of the Americans involved in the ongoing war (Wynn, 2010). African-American soldiers were deployed in Europe to facilitate American operations. During these operations, African-American soldiers faced considerable discrimination despite their large number. Before the war, African-American soldiers were placed on combat lines, but never on the frontlines. In 1941, African-American civil rights activists convinced the US government to set up separate African-American combatant groups to establish their effectiveness. Among these experimental combatants were the Tuskegee Airmen. At the end of their operation, Tuskegee Airmen successful victories considerably facilitated in the victory against American enemies. In this regard, the perception regarding racism, discrimination, and prejudice significantly changed. Eventually, with the African-American soldiers’ outstanding success in the Second World War, African-American units became integrated into the military (Wynn, 2010).

Despite the fact that several African-American nurses volunteered during the Second World War, the navy refused to admit them while the army allowed only a couple of them to serve (Wynn, 2010). To attract attention to this unfairness, Staupers met with America’s first lady, Eleanor Roosevelt, in 1944 and described to her how the African-American nurses were desegregated in the military. Later, Eleanor Roosevelt urged the army to recruit African-American nurses. Despite the army’s compliance with this request, the military quota system restricted African-American nurses to some tasks.

Exploiting the high public awareness of the nursing profession, civil right activists launched a massive campaign to end segregation in the military. Thereafter, the immense pressure to end segregation against African-American military personnel and civil rights activists towards the end of Second World War forced the military to change its policies in this consideration. In 1948, President Harry S. Truman, through the order 9981, eliminated segregation in the armed forces (Wynn, 2010).  

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