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Freedom takes flight

George Hickman, one of the original Tuskegee Airmen, is seen in the cockpit of an AT6 trainer plane in then−Tuskegee Army Air Field in Tuskegee, Ala., during World War II. AP Photo
By Nathan Duke

The Queens Library will mark Black History Month in mid−February with two events, including a film screening, at which members of the legendary Tuskegee Airmen will speak at library branches in Jamaica and Flushing.

The library will play excerpts from the 50−minute film “Tuskegee Airmen” at 2 p.m. on Feb. 14 at Jamaica’s Central Library branch at 89−11 Merrick Blvd. The clips will be accompanied by a discussion between attendees and Tuskegee pilot Roscoe Brown, who commanded a squadron of airmen and acts as director at the Center of Urban Education Policy at the City University’s graduate school, library spokeswoman Judy Close said. Brown is also the executive producer and host of CUNY TV’s “African American Legends.”

“This is a big event because it has such legendary and heroic speakers in person,” Close said. “It’s one of our showcase events for Black History Month.”

The film clips will include footage of air battles involving the fighter pilots.

The airmen were a group of African−American pilots who flew during World War II as the 332nd Fighter Group of the U.S. Army Air Corps. But many of the airmen still faced racism when returning to the United States after the war.

Many of the remaining Tuskegee pilots attended the inauguration of President Barack Obama last week in Washington D.C.

The library’s second Tuskegee event will take place at 2 p.m. Feb. 28 at the Queens Library at Flushing, which is located at 41−17 Main St. The event will include a screening of the 60−minute film “On Freedom’s Wings: Bound for Glory,” as well as discussion with airmen William M. Wheeler and Victor Terrelonge.

“They will talk about how it was an experimental program to teach black soldiers to fly planes during a period of military racial segregation, as well as the obstacles they experienced back home after having done heroic things,” Close said. “They’ll tell all about their personal experiences.”

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e−mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 156.

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