Nicole Harris was not only inspired by watching the film Red Tails, which chronicles the heroic exploits of the Tuskegee Airmen during World War II, but who attended the special Feb. 4, screening at Lawndale 10 Cinema.
“The turnout; the number of men in attendance,” said Harris, a South Side resident. “People are so quick to talk about how the men in our community are not stand-up men and how they don’t care. The demographic; they went from young to old, and I think it was more men here than females.”
Harris also noted the number of older men who brought youngsters with them to the screening, co-sponsored by state Rep. LaShawn Ford.
“I saw quite a few mentors bringing in younger groups of people with them, and that just reaffirms my faith, and I’ve always had the highest faith in our men, regardless. To see so many turn out for this type of movie, not the comedy or the blaxploitation but a movie about our growth and history.”
Brandon Wilkerson, a West Side resident who watched the film for the first time at Lawndale 10, was struck by how young the airmen were.
“It really was an inspiration to me. It let me know no matter how young you are you always got to keep fighting. That’s what inspired me, how young they were,” Wilkerson said.
Harris was also taken aback by how blatant the racism was toward the men by their fellow white officers. Both Harris and Wilkerson plan on seeing the film again. The movie stirred many thoughts and emotions among the filmgoers. Some of the moviegoers said they knew a little about the Tuskegee Airmen before seeing the film but learned more about them afterward.
Ford, who saw the film for the first time, said he was unaware of just how many men – 66 in all – died in combat. The film, he said, also showed how discrimination has impacted black people throughout history. Bringing this history to the community was a driving force behind last Saturday’s special public showing, explained Virgil Crawford of the Westside Health Authority, a co-sponsor of the event.
“We’re just happy to have the opportunity to be able to provide this occasion for people to come together, especially the children to be exposed to a very historical event in our history,” he said.