The movie "Red Tails," about the Tuskegee Airmen who broke racial barriers with their bravery in World War II, is open this weekend. Dozens of the original airmen gathered in Times Square for a special screening and a surprise visit from the star, Cuba Gooding Jr. NY1's Cheryl Wills filed the following report.
Academy Award-winning actor Cuba Gooding made a surprise appearance during a special screening of his new movie "Red Tails" in Times Square and showered dozens of original Tuskegee Airmen who attended the screening with lavish praise.
"Here’s the real deal here, here’s the inspiration for the movie," said Gooding. "To show this page of American history, to uplift the brand, to be proud to be an American.”
"Red Tails" is an action-packed snapshot of the black airmen who struggled to prove themselves in a segregated military unit during World War II.
Dr. Roscoe Brown, a former pilot and one of the original Tuskegee Airmen, said Gooding was perfect for the starring role.
"He did a movie about 50 years ago when he was a young man and he got killed in that movie," joked Brown.
Many of the attending Tuskegee Airmen were deeply grateful to filmmaker George Lucas, who financed the film with his own money.
"He was told, 'If you take a movie based on black experiences, you need a lot of singing and dancing,' and because of that nobody would support it," said Tuskegee Airman Dabney Montgomery, who lives in Harlem.
“This movie not only helps further the legacy of the airmen, which is very dear to us, but it helps teach a lesson to the children,” said Patt Terrelongue of the Tuskegee Airmen Tri-State Chapter.
"How wonderful that people of their courage and character that would stand up and prove to this nation, that it’s not about the color of your skin. It’s about the character that you have and the heart that you have,” said retired U.S. Air Force General Michael Hall.
Floyd Carter, an 89-year-old Bronx resident who was a Tuskegee Airman, was still gushing over the private screening of "Red Tails" at the White House with President Barack Obama, a moment the hero pilot never quite imagined.
"We are finally getting some recognition. It was hard getting it but it finally came,” said Carter.