The Suns received a surprise visit from Tuskegee Airmen on Wednesday to discuss the history of America, history of the Armed Forces and the trials and tribulations to be able to fight in war.
“It was an amazing experience,” Head Coach Earl Watson said. “It’s cool to read books, but to actually sit there and hear it was even better. I think it changed a lot of dynamics as far as how we view today, if not yesterday and tomorrow.”
The Tuskegee Airmen were the first African-American military pilots in the United States. Although they were heavily criticized and discriminated against, they eventually assisted in the integration of the U.S. armed forces.
Joined by one of the original members of The Tuskegee Airmen, they were not only able to tell their stories, but also educate the players on America’s past.
“We realized that a lot of our players didn’t stay in college long enough to learn about the history,” Watson said. “With the time and social issues of now, we want to educate them on not just one side, but all sides.”
The Tuskegee Airmen sparked conversations in the locker room of social issues, overall awareness and how to bring society closer together.
“It was definitely eye opening,” Josh Jackson said. “It was an honor to have them come in and speak to us today. They taught us a lot. I think we learned as much as we could today without practicing. I think we learned a lot of things that moving forward could help us on the court.”
Watson spoke about how these men were able to go into combat with different groups of people of different races, ethnicities, and religions. The men were able to come together for one thing.
“It was love,” Watson said. “The love they have for each other and the accountability they share because everyone wasn’t coming back every time they went out to execute a mission. My dad being a former U.S. Army Drill Sergeant Tank Commander, I just want to make sure that I share the love I have for my Dad’s sacrifice as well.”