he recent film “Red Tails," about the Tuskegee Airmen, an all-black unit of fighter pilots during World War II, has defied expectations and performed well at the box office, making more than $35,093,572, as of Jan. 31.
Prior to the movie's debut, executive producer George Lucas told media outlets of his 20-year struggle to get funding, supposedly because the actors and the story involved African Americans. Some moviegoers say this is why they chose to see the film.
“I received several emails about supporting the movie, by going to see it, because it is such a part of black history and George Lucas invested so much money in bringing it to the movie theater,” says 74-year-old Bessie Davis from Pontiac.
Davis didn’t know much about the actual history of the airmen before the film, but “I immediately came home and got on the Internet to find out more,” she says.
She wasn’t the only moviegoer who had no clue about the history of the airmen. Dan Bowdich, 63, from Berkley, admits that he didn’t know anything about the airmen but went to the premiere because the trailers seemed exciting.
He says he was also inspired to look into research about the groups and plans to go to The Tuskegee Airmen National Historical Museum, located at 6325 W. Jefferson Ave., in Detroit.
Bowdich, who is white, says the history of the group has been mostly overlooked and “we need to get people more educated.”
Brian R. Smith, president of the Museum, saw the movie three times before its public premiere. He expected the men to be portrayed as “superheroes” and that the film would encourage young people to learn more about the group and its work.
“I think the movie did a very good job of doing just that,” says Smith.
One of the original Tuskegee Airmen, Cornelius Davis, 90, has yet to see the movie, but says he is anxious and excited to.
“Our story is a morale booster. It helps the black kids understand you can achieve. You just have to be prepared to carry things out,” says Davis. “There is no height that they can’t achieve. It’s a different world then it was back then.”