We’re excited to see Red Tails featuring Cuba Gooding, Jr. and Terrence Howard. Produced by George Lucas, the movie launches Friday, January 20, 2012 and promises to be a gripping story about the Tuskegee Airmen in World War II. The Tuskegee Airmen were the first African-American pilots in the military, and were named for the town in Alabama where they were trained.
We like to think the movie was inspired by one of FUP’s bestselling authors—Alexander Jefferson. While Red Tail Captured, Red Tail Free is one of the few memoirs of combat in World War II by a distinguished African-American pilot, it is also perhaps the only account of the African-American experience behind barbed wire in a German prison camp.
Alex Jefferson was one of 32 Tuskegee Airmen from the 332nd Fighter Group to be shot down defending a country that considered them to be second-class citizens. A Detroit native, Jefferson enlisted in 1942, trained at Tuskegee Institute, Alabama, became a second lieutenant in 1943, and joined one of the most decorated fighting units in the War, flying P51s with their legendary—and feared —“red tails.”
Alex Jefferson writes what it was like not only to be an African-American pilot flying during WWII, but also what it was like being a prisoner of war in Germany. Jefferson was shot down in 1944, right in German territory. He was immediately taken captive by German soldiers and held in a POW camp for nine months. His memoir, co-written by Lewis Carlson, spares no details of his experiences fighting for a country where he did not have equal rights.
Alex’s story is vivid and personal. An unvarnished look at life as a fighter pilot and POW, it is also a look at race and democracy in American through the eyes of a patriot who fought to protect the promise of freedom—not only on the front lines, but also as he moved through the camps, air bases, and segregated streets of hometown America.