Tuskegee Airmen dedicated at Freeman Field

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Two historical markers to commemorate one of the catalysts of the Civil Rights movement – the Freeman Field Mutiny – were dedicated during a ceremony October 14, 2022 at the Freeman Municipal Airport in Seymour.

The two life-size statues of Tuskegee Airmen honor the African-American military pilots who trained at the facility during World War II.

“This new marker gives us a chance to tell a fuller story, one that describes the fight for democracy both abroad and at home,” said Nicole Poletika, a historian and the editor of the Indiana Historical Bureau. “We firmly believe that well founded revision is not a bad thing when it comes to history, and it only enhances our understanding.”

In 1945, 162 black officers training at the airfield in Seymour were arrested for attempting to integrate an all-white officer’s club. The incident, known as the Freeman Field Mutiny, led to some officers being court-martialed.

But the incident was thrust into the national spotlight, thanks to Sergeant Harold Beaulieu, who ran the photo lab at Freeman Field. While the army took pains to not publicize the event, Beaulieu covertly snapped a photo of the arrest and sent it to the Pittsburgh Courier, a leading black newspaper, which published the photo. The department of defense was flooded with telegrams protesting the arrests.

Historians cite the Freeman Field mutiny as one of the main reasons the army was desegregated in 1948. It wasn’t until 1995 that the Air Force absolved the officers arrested at Freeman Field of their actions.

One of the statues is a Tuskegee Airman in an officer’s uniform to represent the discrimination they faced, and the other depicts a Tuskegee Airman in his flight gear to represent the defense of the nation.

Read more about the Freeman Field Mutiny

Source: Indiana Public Media