Tuskegee Airman Recalls Role of the Black Press
Black journalists received a salute from a spokesman for the Tuskegee Airmen Thursday night when Dr. Roscoe Brown told the National Association of Black Journalists, “It was black journalists that brought us to the attention of the black community throughout the country during the time we were flying and fighting.”
Speaking at the NABJ’s Hall of Fame induction at the Newseum in Washington, Brown added, “Black journalists made it possible for us to pursue our Double Victory campaign” — victory in World War II and victory over racism at home.
Fifteen members of the Tuskegee Airmen — nearly all dressed in their trademark red jackets — were among 300 to 400 people assembled for the annual NABJ fundraiser. The Airmen are enjoying unprecedented attention with the release of the George Lucas movie “Red Tails,” but the role of the black press in assisting their cause is not often mentioned.
In fact, as Patrick S. Washburn noted in his “A Question of Sedition: The Federal Government’s Investigation of the Black Press During World War II” (1986), some in the executive branch urged prosecuting black publishers for sedition over the “Double V” campaign.
Brown, 89, was one of 15 pilots who shot down an advanced German Me-262 jet fighter. He later became a professor at New York University and president of Bronx Community College. Wearing a blue jacket but a red tie, at the Newseum he held up a replica of the March 31, 1945, edition of the Norfolk (Va.) Journal and Guide bearing the headline, “Fliers Smash Berlin: The Jet Planes Destroy in Raid on German Capital.”
Not only does he still have that newspaper, Brown told Journal-isms later, he has the aerial map he used to target Berlin.
“In all the wars we may have covered, we never did what they did in World War II,” Maureen Bunyan, an anchor at Washington’s WJLA-TV and a co-founder of NABJ, told the group. “No one of us had to rely on our brothers and sisters the way these men had to rely on each other.”
Michele Norris, a co-host of NPR’s “All Things Considered,” told the Airmen, “Thank you for loving a country that did not love you back.” She also acknowledged the women in their lives. “Thank you for loving these men,” Norris said.