Black Angels Over Tuskegee Pack The House

Angelitta Anderson

November 19, 2013

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The cast of Black Angels Over Tuskegee receives a standing ovation from Cheyney's audience.

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The November 18 production of Layon Gray's Black Angels Over Tuskegee drew an almost-full house in Cheyney University's Marian Anderson Auditorium for a brilliant production that chronicled the history of the Tuskegee Airmen.  The off-Broadway show was part of Cheyney University's 2013 Fall Arts & Lectures Series. 

Gray provided the audience, which included a contingent of veterans from Coatesville, PA, with a vivid account of the Tuskegee Airmen story. The narrated production was presented through the eyes of six Tuskegee Airmen who battled racism and segregation during the 1940’s to beat the odds and earn their wings. Gray personally interviewed several real-life Tuskegee Airmen in an effort to present the play through their perspective. 

“The Tuskegee Airmen are not in the history books and that’s what makes their story important,” Gray said before taking the stage.  “It’s important for the younger generation, especially for African American students, to know that there is an incredible history and that our history did not begin with slavery.” 

Mesmerized students, faculty, and staff watched the commanding story unfold about the first African American aviators. Despite societal rejection and the lack of confidence in their capabilities, six World War II Negro soldiers overcame racism and adversity to join the United States Army Air Force. All six Tuskegee Airmen succeeded as trainees and became outstanding pilots whose heroism and flight prowess contributed signifcantly to war efforts.

The audience response ranged from laughter to tears and by the evening's end they gave a standing ovation for the cast and director. A celebration of the courage of these self-determined black men who were unstoppable against unbeatable odds, the program was a reminder that if these men could accomplish such great feats against so many unsurmountable odds, all of us should be able to succeed, too.

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