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Tuskegee Airman play comes to Lafayette

Black Angels Over Tuskegee play arrives in Lafayette
Black Angels Over Tuskegee.jpg
Posted at 8:11 PM, Mar 30, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-31 07:08:24-04

Black Angels Over Tuskegee is a play that highlighting the legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen.

A rendition of their journey will be in Lafayette at the Heymann Performing Arts Center Thursday.

The Tuskegee Airmen were the first African American fighter pilots in WWII.

Director and writer Layon Gray says the play tells the historic story of six men who embark on a journey to become the first Black aviators in the United States Army Air Forces in an era of racial segregation and Jim Crow idealism.

“The U.S. military created a camp out there to train African American soldiers. And they picked Tuskegee because of the ground that was very fertile. With the moisture in the ground so they were able to build a wonderful air field because of the ground was so wet,” said Gray.

Gray, an Alexandria native, graduated from the University of Louisiana Lafayette in 1996. He developed Black Angels Over Tuskegee by using his own interviews with Tuskegee Airmen and other research.

“I spoke with Jerry Hodges, who’s still living and is in his late 90s now, he lives in Los Angeles," Gray said. “Just listening to them talk about their journey has really made my mind stronger. To know, as a human, if they can succeed and excel, I have no excuse not to continue doing great things in this world today."

The play has been performed all over the world including on Broadway and in Los Angeles.

The story and characters have been transformative for Hodges and for his cast.

“They were the ones that came out with all the obstacles they had to face," said narrator Thaddeus Daniels. "When they were told their brains were too small, they were smart enough."

“Sometimes it may make you a little angry but the next second you’re going to laugh," Daniels said. "And then you’re going to cry. But to ride that roller coaster of emotion lets you know that you’re alive."

Black Angels Over Tuskegee will open for one performance on Thursday, March 31, at 7:30 p.m. at the Heymann Performing Arts Center.

Those interested in attending the play can order tickets, here.

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