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Red Tails actors visit Tuskegee University campus

By Barry Seawright
On January 18, 2012

Between January 14 and 16, Tuskegee University was home to a weekend of activities that encouraged the entire community to come out and participate. This was due to the premier of Red Tails, a film chronicling the Tuskegee Airman, the first African American aviators in the United States military.

On January 15, the campus was visited by Elijah Kelley and Tristan Wilds, both actors in the Red Tails production. Given a full tour around campus, they were taken to Moton Field, the primary training field of the Tuskegee Airmen during World War II.

Being on campus and actually walking on the historic land where the airmen had once trained gave both actors a sense of awe.

"It feels weird," said Wilds. "It's like coming full circle."

"I literally got chills walking into here. What we recreated through the movie, we're walking on right now," said Kelley.

Although Kelley has visited Tuskegee University's campus before, this was his first time visiting Moton Field and interacting directly with the Tuskegee Airmen they were portraying both on the set and at the university.

"These people are modern superheroes. The only thing making them different from Wolverine or Superman is their mortality," said Wilds.

The story is not just of racial boundaries, however, but a story for the younger generation and overcoming adversity. Kelley translates this through his journey to becoming an actor.

"Ever since I was a child I wanted to entertain others. I wanted to act. I persevered and eventually moved to a land [Hollywood] where I knew no one. I was told that I couldn't do it, but I did," said Kelley.

Both actors joined with Nate Parker, Terrence Howard, David Oyelowo, and Director Anthony Hemingway on the January 16 panel following the screening of the movie.

"Hopefully I can serve as an example for kids to say that it's 2012 and that we have no excuse but to succeed," said Kelley.

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