Monday, January 30, 2012

Black and White Airmen

Right upon the heels of learning that film producer George Lucas is involved in an interracial relationship with Good Morning America Financial Consultant Mellody Hobson, I also found out that George Lucas is the producer of Red Tails!  

Because Red Tails, depicting the story of the heroic Tuskegee (African American) Airmen, is largely cast with African Americans, George Lucas had to finance it with his own money. Other producers feared low movie attendance since no heavy duty white roles are present to attract white audiences.

I haven't seen the movie yet, but it's on my list! I wonder if Ms. Hobson put the bug in George Lucas's ear to do the movie in the first place!

 With all the talk about Red Tails, I wanted to share a book I happened upon by accident one day while at the library.  It's a kid's book (6th grade and up), but a fascinating account for adults to enjoy, as well.

One of the things I liked most about the story was that the two friends featured in it are from Cincinnati. And not long after I read the book, I got to see both of them speak at my sons' school--which is the very same one they attended as young boys!

In John Fleischman's Black and White Airmen: Their True History, we learn about the true history of a friendship that almost didn't happen.

John Leahr and Herb Heilbrun grew up in the same neighborhood and were in the same third grade class. Although classmates, they weren't friends, because Herb was white and John was black.

John and Herb were twenty-one when the United States entered WWII. Herb became an Army Air Forces B-17 bomber pilot. John flew P-51 fighters. Both participated in the high-altitude bomber war against Nazi Germany.  But because the army was segregated and black and white couldn't mix, they never met.

John and Herb returned home safely, but it took them another fifty years to meet and discover that their lives had almost taken the same path through times of war and peace. Now friends, Herb and John have made it a mission to tell young people why race once made a big difference and why it shouldn’t anymore.

Check out this video to learn more about John and Herb, and be sure to read John Fleischman's Black and White Airmen!

Have you seen Red Tails yet? If so, what did you think?

Thanks for visiting!


William Kendall said...

The Tuskegee Airmen story is one that's only been really getting attention in the last few years. I remember reading about them, and there was also a cable movie about them back in the 90s that was highly acclaimed.

Maria McKenzie said...

I think I remember that cable movie, but I can't remember the name. I'd like to see it again, so I'll have to do some digging!

Old Kitty said...

Red Tails isn't here in the UK yet but it's definitely one to watch - it's got quite a lot of publicity here to because of what George Lucas had to do to get this film made!!

Oh this book sounds fascinating!! I love it!!! Thanks for the info and links! Take care

Jennette Marie Powell said...

I haven't seen the movie, but it looks good. The story of the Black and White Airmen is one of those small world things, and the local connection - how cool! It's hard to imagine this kind of segregation now, yet it still happens in less overt ways. Thanks for sharing!

Tonya Kappes said...

I haven't seen the movie, but I'd love to. Very interesting about George Lucas funding it with his own money. I've been hearing that a lot lately in the movie biz.

Mary@GigglesandGuns said...

Haven't seen the movie yet. MY grandson is taking me while he's on break from school.

Thanks for the tip about the book. I reserved it at my library before I commented.

Maria McKenzie said...

@Old Kitty: When the movie does get to the UK, I hope you get a chance to see it on the big screen!

@Jennette: My favorite part of that story was the local connection--and then getting to see them with the author was icing on the cake:)! It's sad that subtle racism is still around:(.

@Tonya: Producers funding their own movies is like writers publishing their own books!

@Mary:I hope you enjoy the book!

Teri Anne Stanley said...

We saw the was...okay. Kind of cliched, unfortunately. But I'm still glad I saw it. I'm interested in the story of the Tuskeegee Airman, and would have liked to know more of the history of "the experiment" I'm off to the library, and I'll look for the book you recommend!

Maria McKenzie said...

Hi, Teri! Thanks for visiting my blog:). I think you'll enjoy the book. William (the first comment) mentioned a cable movie from the 1990s about the Tuskegee Airmen. I vaguely remember it, but I think it had a good bit of history in it.

Norma said...

I remember that movie, too.

Very informative blog, Maria. Thank you for sharing!

Maria McKenzie said...

Hi, Norma! Glad you enjoyed the post:).

Intangible Hearts said...

Sounds very interesting and fascinating scoop about George Lucas. I remember in the old days the scandal was Sammy Davis Jr. and Kim Novak. I think we are all in this together and the name of that movie might normally make me turn away because I think people shouldn't continuously show the divisions and remind people of old pain when progress means working together and loving each other. I'm not trying to discredit the wonderful airmen who fought for this country but on the other hand a war story is still a war story and soldiers are still trained to fight while civilians with the same color blood still die. Love your post for making me say so much. :)

Tonya Kappes said...

That's very true! I never thought of that:)

William Kendall said...

The 90s one was simply titled the Tuskegee Airmen, and starred Laurence Fishburne and Andre Braugher.

Maria McKenzie said...

Thanks, William! I'll see if my library has it:).