PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — They were fighting two wars at once – World War II and the war against bigotry.
The Tuskegee Airmen, many of whom are from Pittsburgh, are receiving a series of honors this week, including a one-night only staging of an off-Broadway play here in Pittsburgh.
They were African-American pilots, who fought for our country during World War II, but weren’t considered smart enough to be pilots.
So, they were segregated into the 332nd Fighter Group, and they proved just how smart they were.
“It’s a good feeling to know that we were able to serve our fellow Americans,” said William Hicks, a Tuskegee Airman. “I’m just really surprised and thankful to have this recognition.”
Hicks is one of about 100 Tuskegee veterans who came from Pittsburgh. On Saturday night, he and the others were honored by a play at the Byham Theater that tells their story.
Playwright Layon Gray got the idea for the show while watching former President Bush honor the Tuskegee Airmen at the White House.
“Black Angels Over Tuskegee” has become far more successful than he ever imagined.
“This isn’t just African-American history, this is American history,” said Gray. “And you know, everybody of every nationality comes here and takes so much from this play.”
The show is headed to London and the Virgin Islands. But this weekend, it was Pittsburgh’s turn to hear the story of the men who fought in the skies and who fought segregation.
“Black Angels Over Tuskegee” was brought to Pittsburgh by the New Horizon Theatre.
On Sunday at noon, a memorial to the Tuskegee Airmen will be dedicated at Sewickley Cemetery.