Despite facing segregation and discrimination in the military, America’s World War II Tuskegee Airmen went on to become some of the most successful and honored airmen from that war. The achievements and courage of these and other Black veterans, from all four branches of the military, are the focus of a new exhibit, “Valor,” opening this week at the Black Archives of Mid-America.
Morcie Whitley’s father, Morris Whitley, was an original Tuskegee Airmen and she soon followed in his footsteps, joining the U.S. Air Force then the National Guard. Both Whitley and her father, along with other Kansas City-area African-American veterans will be honored in the exhibit.
The “Valor” exhibit will feature original uniforms from a Tuskegee Airman, each military branch and artwork honoring the newly formed U.S. Space Force.
Taylor Jackson, a Marine and one of the curators of “Valor,” said he wanted to create the exhibit to not only share his experiences in the military, but to showcase the ultimate sacrifice many African-American veterans made by enlisting and serving in the military for a country that has treated them as less than equal.
“That’s the sacrifice I took, my father, my uncles and Chief Master Sergeant Whitley took. We just want to represent for the next generation who dares to take such a risk,” Jackson said. “These are veterans that have set a framework for me to live in post-military. They’ve done a lot of successful things since they’ve gone on, and I hope to follow in their footsteps.”
The exhibit will run through March 5. Gallery hours are Tuesday – Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.