Some of Emilia Tolbert’s earliest memories of aviation were sitting on her grandmother’s front porch watching planes take off and land from historic Moton Field, where members of the legendary Tuskegee Airmen first began their training during World War II.
It should come as little surprise then that the Tuskegee, Ala.-native-turned-pilot will be on hand at the Stargazers Theatre Monday for the screening of the 35-minute documentary “Red Horizon,” which details the lives of the men and women who hope to be the next generation of Tuskegee Airmen.
Like her predecessors , Tolbert hopes to break barriers. She said she feels a deep sense of responsibility to inspire the next generation of young black females of every profession.
“We’re not achieving these goals for ourselves; we’re changing the norm within our communities,” she said. “It’s so important to have positive role models — it makes a difference to see people who look like you, break down barriers and achieve their dreams. For a young Black girl, having a role model could mean the difference in her [belief] that she can achieve a dream versus settling for mediocrity.”
Doors open Monday at 5:30 p.m. The show starts at 6:30 p.m.
The film, narrated by singer-songwriter Usher, features Tolbert and five other young African American men and women who are chasing their goals of being pilots and aircraft technicians. The students are all on scholarship with the Red Tail Scholarship Foundation, which is dedicated to the career development of African American high school and college students in the aviation industry. The goal is that these young airmen and airwomen will inspire others to offset the racial imbalance in the world of aviation.
“Typically it takes a few days to know if there is a story behind an idea, but with ‘Red Horizon’ it took about 30 minutes,” director T.C. Johnstone said. “I [knew] very quickly after meeting the cast this story needed to be told. These are some of the most amazing [and inspiring] people you will ever meet.”
Tolbert and fellow pilot Jared Savage will be in attendance Monday to answer questions after the screening. They will be joined by Lt. Col. Richard Peace, who grew up in Colorado Springs. Peace is a founding board member of the Red Tail Scholarship Foundation.
Tolbert has been to about seven or eight screenings of the film. When asked if a military audience might have a greater appreciation for the film, she said she believes the military has a special connection to the documentary given that the Tuskegee Airmen played an instrumental role in desegregating the military.
“African-Americans have made astronomical contributions to the U.S. Forces, which I am sure any military or civilian would appreciate,” she said.
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