A Tuskegee Airman tells his story during the Panel Discussion of “Red Tails Escorting the B17’s.”

He spoke about the racial situation in the armed services during WWII.  He said he was an American soldier just returning from the war.  He was a fighter pilot.  

He dressed carefully in his dress uniform  He shined his wings and his captain bars.  He wanted to look his best for his mother and father.  They had never seen him in his officer’s uniform.  He got on the bus…the bus was not crowded…as he handed the bus driver his fare, the driver took the money and handed him his change with these words…”take a seat in the back of the bus”.  The Tuskegee Airman paused at those words.  He was overcome by that memory then softly finished his story.

His hurt and disappointment in retelling the story of being ordered to sit in the back of the bus after just returning from the war was still a raw and hurtful memory for him.  

About Illinois Artist Laureate Kay Smith

After completing my studies at the School of the Art Institute, I worked as an illustrator. As the 1976 Bicentennial approached there was a fever of interest in American history. In 1971, I was asked to illustrate a book on the American Revolutionary War period which required me to travel to historic locations to paint the actual scenes. As my travels crossed and crisscrossed the paths of the patriots, I entered their lives and was forever caught in the inescapable skeins of history and was thrust into the role of historical painter. What began as a single assignment has grown over the past 40-plus years into the largest collection of American historical-site paintings ever created by a single artist. To see these historical works and to learn more about The American Legacy Collection, please visit my website at: www.kaysmithartist.com. The American Legacy Collection is a dramatic panorama of this country's historical places and its defining moments. My original watercolors chronicle 500 years of the American experience and preserve with an artist's palette our American heritage.

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