Lena And The Red Tails

Medium: Oil on archival gallery wrap canvas
Size: 24″ x 30″

My father, Harold C. Hayes was one of the officers in charge of closing Moten Airfield (home of the Tuskegee Airmen) after the war. After his passing, the family found many papers and memorabilia of his days at Tuskegee and among them were many promotional photographs of the Airmen at Moten Field. This is a painting of one of them with Lena Horne posing in a fighter plane with some of the pilots around her. It is notable because it is a fact that during World War II, the USO became the G.I.’s “home away from home” and began a tradition of entertaining the troops paying for and providing transportation for all white performers to visit the military men at home and abroad to entertain them during the war. They refused to pay for any Black entertainers to do this. Lena Horne was one of the Black entertainers to pay for her own way to meet the men and provide entertainment for them. She was a pioneer and led the way for other Black entertainers to follow suit.

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