This afternoon, I was walking home from the bank. Usually I walk home taking Market, but because I just walked wherever the light was green, I ended up walking down Chestnut. When I turned on 39th, I noticed a huge mural that I haven’t noticed before. The first thing that caught my eye was the large text in the center that said “No Colored Allowed” and “White Only.” Of course, after I saw that I had to take a closer look. After scanning the content, I realized that the mural was a tribute to the Tuskegee Airmen.
The Tuskegee Airmen are a group of men who served America in time of war with other nations as well as internal war within the nation itself. Black people were hated. They had no rights. Despite the racism they faced, these man fought for this nation full of people who hated them. That, to me, is beyond dedication. I would not ever risk my life for a nation who demeaned me because of the color of my skin. Somehow these men worked past that.
This tribute mural “The Tuskegee Airmen:They Met the Challenge” was made by Marcus Akinlana under the City of Philadelphia MuralArtsProgram. It features eight Philadelphia Airmen as young men: Ted Ramsey, Henry Moore, Eugene Richardson, John Harrison, Ben Calloway, Burt Levy, Roscoe Draper and William Cousins.
This mural is supposed to serve as a reminder for the community about the great acts of these men. The sad thing is many people who walk by it, have no clue who these men were. They have no clue about the significance of their actions. They also have no clue what the United States was like less than 100 years ago. They walk around as if they are entitled to the rights that they have and waste precious opportunity. I will be honest, I look at some people in disgust because of how they carry themselves. They are uneducated, disrespectful, and just a waste of opportunity. People died for their voice to matter. But how do they use their voice? They speak nothing but ignorance. And it only gets worse as the cycle continues.
So while I appreciate this mural and everything it stands for, I want to see more action. This huge image on the side of the building is not enough. People need to be educated. They need to truly understand the value of their life. They need to take action with the opportunities that are presented.