“Red Tails” is the thrilling true story of the Tuskegee Airmen — in this epic war adventure from executive producer George Lucas and first-time feature director Anthony Hemingway. In the fire and chaos of World War II, the U.S. military recruits a fearless group of African-American fighter pilots to help reclaim the skies over Europe. Discriminated against both as citizens and as soldiers, the Tuskegee Airmen take flight in planes distinguished by distinctive red tails, and fight to defeat the tyranny of the Axis powers. As a result of their bravery, the pilots emerge as true heroes, and prove that all men are truly created equal.
The pilots are known by their nicknames, there’s “Easy” (Nate Parker), “Lightening” (David Oyelowo), “Smokey” (Ne-Yo), “Joker” (Elijah Kelley), “Ray Gun” (Tristan Wilds), “Neon” (Kevin Phillips), “Deacon” (Marcus T. Paulk), and “Bumps” (Michael B. Jordan). They’re led by Maj. Stance (Cuba Gooding Jr.) and Col. Bullard (Terrence Howard).
On Tuesday “Red Tails” was released to DVD and in celebration UrbanBridgez.com spoke to Tuskegee Airmen Dr. Roscoe Brown on his involvement and thoughts on the film and being an Tusgegee Airman!
UrbanBridgez.com: Let me first start off by asking what you thought of the film Red Tails overall?
Dr. Roscoe Brown: I think it’s an outstanding movie. It tells the story on how we overcame those obstacles and how good we were. It’s very exciting, the editing is outstanding and it does a great job of telling the story of the Tuskegee Airmen.
UrbanBridgez.com: Did you have any involvement in the film?
Dr. Roscoe Brown: I was actually one of the consultants on the movie. I worked with the actors so they could act like fighter pilots and be like pilots. I think they did a good job, some of the dialogue was a little Hollywood. We didn’t do alot of that talking. All in all, it’s a good representation of what we did.
UrbanBridgez.com: The film is filled with so much action, during that period did you ever think what you were apart of would be something movies were made of one day?
Dr. Roscoe Brown: Not so much to be a movie, but the fact is in 1945 the Air force made a documentary called Wings for This Man. It was showed in the black theaters at that time. If anybody wants to see it, they can log on to Google and search the title. In it you will hear Ronald Reagan, who later became president and he’s narrating it. I think it will be worthwhile for everybody to look at it. There was another one called Lonely Eagles and later HBO had the film called The Tuskegee Airmen. But this is the first feature film that’s been done about the Tuskegee Airmen.
UrbanBridgez.com: What are one of your best memories about that time in 1944 and 1945 that you were a Tuskegee Airman?
Dr. Roscoe Brown: As a fighter pilot I flew 68 missions and you can get shot down on any of them missions. You do it day after day after day, with a few days break. Because you’re young, you know you’re good and you want to be the best you can be! Plus the fact of flying is one of the most exciting activities you can do. Because you’re controlling your plane. When you’re young you feel you can conquer the world and I remember we felt like that.
UrbanBridgez.com: Tell people why they should go out and pick up the DVD of Red Tails?
Dr. Roscoe Brown: I think everybody that seen it, would like to own it. Nothing is like when you’re sitting in the theater watching those plans come towards you, you realize this was a hell of an experience. We were really, really great! All pilots are good, but I thought we were the best! You had to believe that in order to do it.
UrbanBridgez.com: Tell us about African American Legends for those not familiar with it?
Dr. Roscoe Brown: It’s a cable TV program here in NY on channel 75. On it I interview outstanding people from the African American community. In arts, education, medicine, law, etc. We talk about just as we’re talking about now, what they believe, why they’re doing what they’re doing and what impact it will have on the black community. One of the things many of us are concerned about is the young people have internalized the stereotype threat that says blacks can’t do something. Blacks can do anything anybody else can do given the opportunity. And that’s what I talk about on African American Legends. You can go to www.cuny.tv/show/africanamericanlegends and see every episode I’ve done.
UrbanBridgez.com: What’s been your biggest achievement in your life to you thus far?
Dr. Roscoe Brown: Definitely the Tuskegee Airmen, but I always say the biggest achievement in my life has been the birth of my children. They’ve all done well, I got grandchildren and great-grandchildren. I also have to say being president of Bronx Community College, has been a big thing in my life. And I’ve been on television, won a couple of Emmy awards. So I’ve been very fortunate in being able to do some of the things that I wanted to do. All of which was devoted to showing that African Americans can be as good or better than anybody else!
UrbanBridgez.com: Anything else you want to leave our readers with?
Dr. Roscoe Brown: I want to say that hopefully the message from the movie & DVD is that excellence overcomes obstacles. Excellence overcomes prejudice and you shouldn’t let anybody tell you that you can’t do anything. If you want to do it, go and try to do it!