Laurinburg gets Tuskegee Airmen exhibit

By Scott Witten - [email protected]

LAURINBURG — Scotland County students and others will get a history lesson next week on the Tuskegee Airmen — America’s first black military pilots and crew.

That lesson will be shared thanks to a traveling exhibit that will run Wednesday through Saturday in the parking lot of the Main Table restaurant on Main Street. The event was organized by the African American Cultural Society of Scotland County Inc.

The CAF Red Tail Squadron’s Rise Above Traveling exhibit will feature a rare and restored P-51C Mustang airplane. Visitors will also have a chance to step inside an immersion theater featuring the original film, RISE ABOVE, on a 160-degree panoramic screen in a 30-seat temperature-controlled movie theater. The film runs 15 or 30 minutes depending on the size of the crowd at the exhibit.

The movie highlights who the Tuskegee Airmen were and how they overcame so many obstacles to be allowed to train and fight as the first black U.S. Army Air Corps pilots during World War II. The film also features the story of the more than 10,000 other black men and women who worked to support the pilots.

Nuekie Aku Opata, AACS president, said her group hopes the exhibit will inspire others to overcome obstacles.

“We think it is important for our children to visit this motivational and inspirational exhibit that shows how the Tuskegee Airmen triumphed over adversity,” Opata said. “We don’t ever want to stop our children from dreaming. We also want them to recognize that they can be more than the next Michael Jordan or Cam Newton. They can be astronauts and commercial airline pilots too.”

Every student who visits the exhibit as part of a school or educational outreach program is given an inspirational dog tag with the six guiding principles of the CAF Red Tail Squadron’s Rise Above educational program. These principles reflect how the Tuskegee Airmen rose above the obstacles they faced in order to fly and fight for America. The dog tags read: Aim High – Believe In Yourself – Use Your Brain – Never Quit – Be Ready to Go – Expect To Win.

Members of the Red Tail Squadron, part of the non-profit Commemorative Air Force, volunteer to maintain and fly the P-51C Mustang, whose distinctive red markings on the tails of the planes gave the organization its name. The group is also dedicated to preserving the history of the Tuskegee Airmen.

The exhibit travels around the county nine months out of the year. It was introduced in 2011.

There is an opening ceremony Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. For the remainder of the exhibit, the times are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tickets are $7.50.

AACS is also looking for sponsors to help underwrite the exhibit’s cost. For information, call 910-2803494.

The Main Table restaurant is at 1229 S Main St. in Laurinburg.

By Scott Witten

[email protected]

Reach Scott Witten at 910-506-3023.

Reach Scott Witten at 910-506-3023.

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