‘A taste of history:’ Montgomery’s Red Tails Classic honors the Tuskegee Airmen

The T-7A Red Hawk model was on display at the pre-game “Fan Fest.”
The T-7A Red Hawk model was on display at the pre-game “Fan Fest.”(Source: WSFA)
Published: Sep. 5, 2021 at 9:27 PM EDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Before kickoff at the Cramton Bowl, fans had the chance to learn about the deeper meaning behind Sunday’s Red Tails Classic.

The game pinned Tuskegee and Fort Valley State, two historically Black universities, head-to-head. While opponents on the field, the Red Tails Classic put a spotlight on a shared African American history.

“Boeing has had a long history of supporting those universities, but this is something that we’re doing to just take this to the next level,” said Frank Hatten with Boeing.

The game honored the Tuskegee Airmen who flew in World War II. Their staple red-tailed planes are the reason behind title sponsor Boeing’s decision to showcase a T-7A Red Hawk plane model alongside the pre-game “Fan Fest.”

“So, you notice we painted the tail of the plane red,” Hatten said. “This is the brand-new trainer plane that the U.S. Air Force uses to train their future pilots.”

The model was a tribute to the men who helped carve the way toward racial equality in the armed forces. Representatives with the Tuskegee History Center were in attendance - keeping the legacy of the airmen alive.

“You get a taste of history. You get a taste of the game,” Ronald McDowell said at the center’s booth.

The artist uses his work to focus on Black history, his effort to “keep the story going.” He said he has a personal connection to some of the Tuskegee Airmen.

“To me its important because I knew a lot of them,” he said. “I’ve been in Tuskegee for over 30 years now, and I got a chance to meet Col. Carter and Chief Anderson.”

After spending decades in the Alabama city, McDowell said he developed relationships that he truly cherishes.

“They became friends of mine,” the artist said. “I became friends of theirs.”

“I was honored to be in their presence and to learn their stories,” he added.

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