“The Test” exhibition looks at first black aviators
“The Test, The Tuskegee Project,” an exhibition about the first African-American aviators in the United States military will open in the lobby of the Delta Heritage Center in Brownsville, Tenn., Sunday, February 15. Presented by the Geneva Miller Historical Society, the exhibit is designed by Brownsville native and renown photographer, Jerry Taliaferro. It is a unique presentation of history that includes depictions based upon first-hand accounts of participants in the action. The exhibit will remain on view through March 21.
In April 1943, after months of training and preparation, the 99th Fighter Squadron, an aviation unit that consisted entirely of African-American personnel, landed in North Africa. This was the beginning of the test phase of an experiment that began many months earlier at the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. Its purpose – to determine if black men were capable of being effective combat aviators. This exhibition tells the story of these men; their struggles in combat overseas and against prejudice and racism in America.
The incredible graphics are the heart of the exhibition. Meticulously researched and carefully crafted depictions of actions in which the airmen were involved bring the stories to life. Most of the graphics and aviation art were developed specifically for the exhibition to give visitors a “wingman” view to history. The illustrations of actions and aircrafts along with models and an easily understood narrative makes the exhibition an enjoyable experience for most visitors.
The exhibit is free and open to the public. The West Tennessee Delta Heritage Center is located at 121 Sunny Hill Cove in Brownsville, Tenn., just off of Interstate 40 at Exit 56. For more information about the program, call the Center at 731-779-9000 or email [email protected].
CAPTION: “Enter the 332nd Fighter Group” is one of 12 interpretive panels depicting the story of the Tuskegee experiment to determine if African American pilots were effective combat aviators. The free exhibit also contains models of the planes and will be on display at the Delta Heritage Center in Brownsville Feb. 15 – Mar. 21.
About Jerry Taliaferro: Taliaferro, fresh out of high school, joined the Army and entered the U. S. Military Academy at West Point. His real interest in photography began when he was posted to Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and while serving in Germany. In 1985, he was published for the first time when a Munich magazine purchased the rights to one of his images. After returning to the United States, he left the military and began his pursuit of a career in commercial photography and fine art photography. Taliaferro currently resides in North Carolina. More about Taliaferro and his work can be found at www.blackartphotoart.com.
About the Geneva Miller Historical Society: The Geneva Miller Historical Society is named in honor of a renowned teacher of history at Haywood County Training/Carver High School in Brownsville, Tenn. The major work of the society focuses on researching the past and using this information and collected artifacts as the basis of free public presentations and exhibits. For more information, contact Dr. Dorothy Granberry at [email protected].