These two sites combine to become something of a treasure hidden in eastern Alabama! The sites are only about fifteen minutes apart, so you can easily experience both sites in one day. We highly recommend the sites as supplemental aids for students learning about the role of the Tuskegee Airmen in World War II since these pilots completed training courses at both of the sites. There’s so much to enjoy about each individual site, and we’ll explore the separate sites now.
Tuskegee Institute National Historic Site
We spent most of our visit at the George Washington Carver Museum where we learned about the transition from young George, an aspiring artist, to the incredible scientist that we have all studied about in school. Before breaking down the peanut, Carver studied the properties of clay to make paints. Who knew?!? He eventually fell hard for the study of peanuts…and soybeans…and sweet potatoes, though, seeking to make the most of what God supplied in the natural world. Carver learned to look at the entire anatomy of the plants, eventually finding over 300 uses for the peanut and putting sweet potatoes in space.
Tuskegee Institute was a hands-on learning establishment. The work that Carver did with the field of agriculture was far from bound to the classroom. Extension agents hopped aboard Booker T. Washington’s Agricultural School On Wheels to reach rural farmers with the newest agricultural techniques.
Perhaps more impressive is that students put their knowledge and skills to work, building up the campus one brick at a time. Visitors can still see many of these historic buildings on campus!
Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site
This site is pure gold! Visitors can step inside one of the original hangars that now serves as a museum and visitor center. Hangar 1 provides a look at what each area of the building would have looked like during normal operations when the pilots were on site. Hangar 2 houses a theater and continued exhibit space where visitors dig deeper into the story of the famed Tuskegee Airmen.
You have to watch the introduction video in the visitor center at this site! Airmen and their families provide first-hand accounts to help historians paint the picture of what these men endured and highlight the work that they did.
Continue to the exhibit hall to read about flight school, the task at hand, and the struggle for respect and equality. Though the men eventually earned the respect of many white pilots during the war, they still returned home to much less than a hero’s welcome. They put their lives on the line for a country that refused to see them as equals. It might be impossible to walk away from this site without an extremely heightened sense of respect for these fine men.
Bonus points for the super cool junior ranger wings at this site!!