During a visit to the Smithsonian when he was five years old, Roscoe Brown first laid eyes on the Spirit of St. Louis, Charles Lindbergh's plane which flew across the Atlantic just the year before. Needless to say, Brown was absolutely captivated.
The Tuskegee Airmen were the first group of African-American military aviators. They fought in WWII and although they were risking their lives for our country, they were still subjected to Jim Crow laws.
I don't need Hollywood to remind me of African-Americans' achievements in WWII. I have my father. For his valor and bravery my father earned the World War II Victory Medal, among other commendations. But when he returned home he never received his medal or an official "thank you."
At the conclusion of the screening of Red Tails, we came to our feet with thunderous applause. But we did not face the screen. We turned and faced the real Red Tails standing among us, a fitting tribute to the icons that shaped every American Airman serving today.
Hiram Mann, 90, had to fight to find the work he loved, overcoming tremendous odds. The struggle and the rewards of his 90 years were encapsulated in his first words in our interview: "I was one of the original legendary Tuskegee Airmen."
My Great Uncle Joe was one of the first Tuskegee Airmen. This major piece of family and American history was something I often took for granted. I decided that it was my responsibility to learn much more before seeing Red Tails.
Despite what no doubt were state-of-the-art visual effects thanks to the involvement of LucasFilm, Red Tails is further proof that visual tricks and flashily edited action sequences aren't enough to make a movie interesting.
Lucas himself noted that this was perhaps the first major "all black action film" ever made. He pointed out that few with African Americans playing all major roles ever made it to wide distribution, save for the frugally produced work of Tyler Perry.