Thursday, August 10, 2017

Tuskegee Institute and Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Sites

Last night we stopped late in Meridian, Mississippi right on the border of Alabama.  We decided to stop here for food and fuel so we could get right on the road the next morning.  We ended up boon docked at Cracker Barrel.  There was one other Class A in the RV lot along with 3 cars taking up the RV spaces.  I was hoping I'd be able to park. Why do people park in the wrong spots?  I hope one day if they are RVing they'll figure it out.  Very annoying for those of us who do RV. 
Everyone was so one hardly talked tonight.
Tired girl
We got up at 6 am and was out of Meridian by 7 a.m. It was a miserably HOT night since we didn't have any air conditioning to cool us off. It was very noisy from freeway traffic, trains and such, so we didn't get a lot of sleep.  I woke up at about 3 a.m. in a pool of sweat.  It was wonderful to boon dock at Cracker was just too bad we don't have a generator.  We may have to rethink that...

We then charted our course for Tuskegee, Alabama.  Tuskegee is home to two National Historical Sites: Tuskegee Institute and Tuskegee Airmen - neither of which I had heard of before.  So, I was curious since they were in the same small town.

We say the exit first for Tuskegee Institute National Historic Site, so we did this first.  Reading up on it, I realized it was a very neat place that Booker T. Washington founded and taught school and the home he was raised in was next to the school property -- now Tuskegee University. 
Tuskegee University
Founded 1881
Booker T. Washington Blvd.  The main road on campus.
Booker T. Washington's Childhood Home - across the street from Tuskegee University.
Tuskegee University is a private, historically black university established by Booker T. Washington.
Booker T. Washington
George Washington Carver
The campus is designated as the Tuskegee Institute National Historic Site by the National Park Service and is the only school to have this distinction!  Also, George Washington Carver lived in and attended Tuskegee Institute and the visitor's center there was dedicated to these two famous men.  Cierra said she did a book report on Booker T. Washington, so it was good she was familiar with one of them.

According to Wiki, in short, The university offer 40 bachelor's degree programs, 17 master's programs and a 5-year accredited professional degree program in architecture, 4 doctoral degree program and the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine!  3,100 students from the US and 30 other countries attend. It is ranked among 2015's best 379 colleges and universities by Princeton Review and 5th among the 2015 U.S. News & World Report!

The university campus was designed by architect Robert Robinson Taylor, the first African American to graduate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

We couldn't really figure out where to go and a guard on campus came over and provided assistance.  We had Coco and Chanel on leashes and the sign on the university said no dogs allowed but he gave Coco and Chanel the OK to go on the campus.  That was so nice.  We walked over to the museum where we met the cutest gal who gave us instructions on the museum and asked the kids if they wanted to do junior ranger.  I told he we always do junior ranger but today we had to get all the way to South Carolina and couldn't spare the time.  She was so neat, that she gave each of the kids the booklets and gave them their pins anyway and they promised to do their books on their word.  It's nice to meet good people like her!
George Washington Carver Museum
The kids with their new friend.
Here are some of the interesting artifacts from this museum.
AMAZING inventions by George Washington Carver.  We owe the man a great deal of debt.
The size of the first camera.  Hunter is standing there for comparison.
Invention of polio crutches.  My Aunt Vivian had polio as a child.
The kids were quite intrigued by an actual "iron lung".
They couldn't get enough of it.
Inside a child's iron lung.  The child would stay in the chamber until they could breathe on their own.
This was an absolutely fascinating place.  I'm very glad we went. I had no idea that George Washington Carver and Booker T. Washington had so many creative inventions!

Next, we took the RV through the narrow streets of town and about 2-3 miles away was the Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site Hangers 1 and 2.
Tuskegee Airmen were a very famous group of men and women.  Here's what they have to say on Wiki:

The Tuskegee Airmen /tʌsˈkɡ/[1] is the popular name of a group of African-American military pilots (fighter and bomber) who fought in World War II. Officially, they formed the 332nd Fighter Group and the 477th Bombardment Group of the United States Army Air Forces. The name also applies to the navigators, bombardiers, mechanics, instructors, crew chiefs, nurses, cooks and other support personnel for the pilots.

All black military pilots who trained in the United States trained at Moton Field, the Tuskegee Army Air Field and were educated at Tuskegee University.  The group included five Haitians,and a pilot from Trinidad.

Although the 477th Bombardment Group trained with North American B-25 Mitchell bombers, they never served in combat.  The 99th Pursuit Squadron (later the 99th Fighter Squadron) was the first black flying squadron, and the first to deploy overseas to North Africa in April 1943 and later to Sicily and Italy.  The 332nd Fighter Group, which was originally included in 100th, 301st, and 302nd Fighter Squadrons, was the first black flying group.  They deployed to Italy in early 1944. In June 1944, the 332nd Fighter Group began flying heavy bomber escort missions, and in July 1944, the 99th Fighter Squadron was assigned to the 332nd Fighter Group.

The Tuskegee Airmen were the first African-American military aviators in the United States Armed Forces.  During World War II, black American in many US states were still subject to the Jim Crow laws and the American military was racially segregated, as was much of the federal government. The Tuskegee Airmen were subjected to discrimination, both within and out side the army.
The museum consisted of two hangers. Hanger #1 was the visitor's center, shop and museum and hanger #2 had a couple planes on display.  It's so funny because when we go to national parks and visitor's centers the kid complain sometimes that they have to do junior ranger, then today we tell them that we can't do junior ranger because we were on a time schedule and then they beg us to do them.  Go figure.

The museum had some fabulous items on display.
This is a very easy park to maneuver for parking.  It's tight but doable.  RV and bus parking is way in the back, but if there isn't anyone around, just park up front.  We parked way in the back and after I bought the kids their airmen wings at the bookstore and started to head back to the RV, it started pouring cat and dogs. It is a bit of a hike down to the hanger and they is handicap parking down at the hanger for 1 vehicle.

I would highly recommend both activities and a trip to Tuskegee, Alabama!

Other Parks
We were scheduled to go to Jimmy Carter National Historic Site in Plains, George and then Andersonville National Historic Site followed by Ocmulgee National Monument as they were on our initial route, but time was running out since I had to pry Hunter out of the airmen's museum.  Realizing we couldn't get to Andersonville (where I had my heart set on going), I had to just set out route straight for North Carolina.  I could probably do a good month or two to see all the site in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina.  Such a shame since we're right here. We'll have to plan another trip...hopefully when it isn't as humid.

Pine Acres Campground
We got to Pine Acres Campground tonight about 7:00 pm.  It was too late for photos so I'll add those in the morning. I'm exhausted.  It was my hardest day yet...probably because we've had little sleep to get the kids home by tomorrow afternoon.

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