Tuskegee Triumph


A mixed media artwork by Roy E. LaGrone, of a United States Army Air Force pilot (Lieutenant Herman ‘Ace’ Lawson) in World War Two. A well executed fine art piece, today’s post carries its social history front and centre – and rightly so as its a celebration of African-American achievement*. 


LaGrone was a member of the 332d Fighter Group, United States Army Air Forces, which became famous as part of the the Tuskegee airmen – a story well worth a look, though I won’t write it up in detail here, having written it up on my Vintage Aero Writer blog as ‘The Tuskegee Airmen: case study of diversity in history’. (That has proven one of my most popular blog posts, clearly coming up in school project online searches!)


As Leif S Peng notes in the Today’s Inspiration Facebook group where the image came from this is “… original art from a U.S. Airforce exhibit (and book collection) of the artist’s work.” Roy E LaGrone’s obituary here mentions the discrimination hew faced even as a US Army air force officer fighting for his country. Developing his art interest, he provides a very, very rare insight as both a combat, fighter pilot, and an artist, studying art at the University of Florence, Italy after his military service. (I can think of only one other artist who was a combat pilot in World War Two, Wing Commander Gordon  Olive, CBE, DFC, RAAF who painted his experiences – though I’m sure there are more – anyone?) A good LaGrone bio on the NMUSAF website here (Where LaGrone’s family service photo is from) and a Baltimore Sun obituary here, and a great family memoir here, where I’ve taken the image below, originally published in  Ebony Magazine, 1960, from.Roy 1960.-3

James Kightly, Vintage Aero Writer.

Main image via Today’s Inspiration Group, post here. Another version in the Digital Public Library of America. Others indicated in text.

*For ‘Black History Month’ that I decided to celebrate two days late.

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