The Yuh Prosthodontics Lecture
African Americans fought a war on two fronts in World War II: against fascism abroad and against white supremacy at home. No group battled both as directly, made better use of the opportunities the war created, or did more to lay the groundwork for the civil rights movement than the Tuskegee Airmen. These all-black fighter and bomber groups fought their way into the U.S. Army Air Forces, then battled Hitler’s Luftwaffe in the skies over Europe and Jim Crow’s forces at postings throughout the United States.
The speaker, Professor Todd Moye, traces this story from the long struggle to force the War Department to train pilots of color, through the Tuskegee Airmen’s campaign to win equal opportunities to serve their country in wartime, to the postwar efforts to desegregate the Air Force. He draws on the more than 800 oral history interviews a National Park Service project that he directed recorded with veterans of the historic Tuskegee Airmen experience. The interviews illustrate vividly how Tuskegee Airmen themselves made sense of the changes they lived through and helped bring about, and they allow the Airmen to explain the significance of this experience in their own words.
Speaker: J. Todd Moye
J. Todd Moye is a professor of history at the University of North Texas, the director of the UNT Oral History Program, and in 2017-18 the president of the Oral History Association. He is the author of several articles and books on the history of the modern African American freedom struggle. They include Freedom Flyers: The Tuskegee Airmen of World War II (published by Oxford University Press in 2010), a narrative history of the most significant civil rights struggle of the World War II era based on a collection of more than 800 oral histories; Let the People Decide: Black Freedom and White Resistance Organizing in Sunflower County, Mississippi, 1945-1986 (University of North Carolina Press, 2004), a community study of grassroots civil rights and pro-segregation movements in the Mississippi Delta; and Ella Baker: Community Organizer of the Civil Rights Movement (Rowman & Littlefield, 2013), an intellectual biography of one of the movement’s most important thinkers and strategists. He has also co-created several digital history projects, including Civil Rights in Black and Brown: Oral Histories of the Multiracial Civil Rights Struggles in Texas and The Crisis at Mansfield. A graduate of the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and the University of Texas-Austin, Moye directed the National Park Service’s Tuskegee Airmen Oral History Project from 2000 to 2005. He lives in Fort Worth, Texas, with his wife and two sons.