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The Tuskegee Airmen | Eunique Jones Gibson

Photo:  Mini-inspired Tuskegee Airmen   (Jason, 6, Jasiah, 6, Dontay, 4, and Malachi, 5) 

Inspiration:  When we decided to expand the Because of Them We Can campaign, I knew that I wanted to capture a group photo of our little men in the shoes of individuals whose lives highlighted unity, dedication, friendship and patriotism.  As the first Black military pilots during World War II, the Tuskegee Airmen exuded all of the above.

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Behind Their Story 

On the day of the shoot, Jason, Jasiah, Dontay and Malachi entered my studio full of energy and visibly excited about the cool hats and aviator goggles I handed each of them to put on. As a mother with two sons, I knew going into the photo shoot that getting four boys all ages six and under to pose would be a fun challenge. Once they were dressed and in front of my camera their excitement transformed into shyness.  It was obvious that they were a tad bit intimidated by not knowing one another.  Before giving them any real direction, I knew I had to break the ice, especially since I would be asking them to put their arms around one another and pose as if they were the best of friends within a matter of minutes. 

I thought that having them introduce themselves to one another and say “hi” would do the trick. 

Okay guys, you all are portraying the Tuskegee Airmen.  I’m sure many of the Airmen were friends, but you can’t be friends with someone you don’t know…right? Right. Okay turn to one another, tell him your name and say “hi”… Awesome! Now put your arms on each other’s shoulders, turn towards me and smile. 


Ok guys, that was good, but we can do better.  I need all of you to look at me this time… and remember, you’re friends!  Ready?


Okay, that was much better.  Jason and Jasiah, this time I want you two to concentrate just a little bit more, look here and smile big. Okay?


We’re almost there I just need everyone to smile now… or I’m going to tickle you! Ready?



Perfect! I don’t know why but the threat of tickling these little men did the trick.  Once I snapped the photo I knew that I had what I needed.  The only thing left would be to make their jackets a bit more uniformed using a little Photoshop magic.

It is my hope that when people view the photograph of our mini-inspired Tuskegee Airmen, that they recall the courage, dedication and determination required of them to become the first Black military pilots in America at a time when many questioned their intelligence and worth. Because of the Tuskegee Airmen, We Can be confident in our dreams, goals and abilities!


Eunique Jones Gibson, 
Because Of Them, We Can™ 

Veterans of WWII

Veterans of WWII

Revisit the exceptional story of the Tuskegee Airmen through these first-person accounts.

Behind The Lens: Story Lineup

Behind The Lens: Story Lineup

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