Legislators paused today to commemorate Black History Month. The Iowa House honored the Tuskegee Airmen, a unit of black soldiers who flew combat missions during World War Two. Robert Morris is C-E-O of the Fort Des Moines Memorial Park that recently unveiled a replica of the P-51 Mustang flown by the Tuskegee Airmen.Morris says black Americans have a rich cultural history, and “it needs to be paid a lot more attention to than just one month of the year” but he says they have to take what they can get. Twelve of the Tuskegee Airmen were Iowans. Morris says many white World War Two veterans will “try to say that blacks didn’t have anything to do with World War Two.” He says six of the Iowans who were part of the Tuskegee Airmen each flew over 400 combat missions. A resolution was read over the noonhour in the statehouse rotunda, and one of the Iowa Legislature’s three black members, Representative Wayne Ford of Des Moines, served as master of ceremonies.Lieutenant Governor Sally Pederson says Iowa was firmly established as a “free” state 24 years before the civil war, and blacks have been marking milestones in Iowa ever since. Pederson notes the first black contestant in the Miss America pageant was Miss Iowa 1970, Sheryl Brown. The Des Moines drum and dance troop, the Isiserettes, kicked off the Black History Month celebration at the capitol.The Iowa Senate honored Jack Trice, the Iowa State football player who died in 1923 from injuries he received during a game. The Cyclone’s football stadium is named in his honor.
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