GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Black History Month was celebrated in grand style by students and teachers at R.J. Bailey Elementary School with a tribute to the Tuskegee Airmen from World War II.
Starting with a video performance of the “Star Spangled Banner” by the late Whitney Houston from Super Bowl XXV, the 90-minute event was packed with musical and dance performances, and reminded everyone of the history of African-Americans and some of the struggles they’ve had to endure.
"Our purpose today is to enlighten you about the history of the eight officers in the Army who fought in World War II as aviators," said sixth grade teacher Carol Williams. "It's also to motivate students that no matter what obstacles you face in life you will always reach for the stars."
Williams brought down the house herself with a stirring rendition of "I Believe I Can Fly." She also spoke about being inspired by First Lady Michelle Obama, who she has sometimes been compared to.
"She is a woman of quality and a quality of excellence," Williams said. "She presents herself as a wonderful, confident African-American woman."
A video trailer of the movie "Red Tails," which opened last month and chronicles the story of the Tuskegee Airmen, an elite group of pilots who had to operate in segregated units and did not fight alongside their white countrymen, was also shown.
"When they were given the chance to enter the war they not only rose to the challenge, they distinguished themselves with valor throughout the war," said speaker Quincy Wright.
Frank Critton said his grandfather Aaron Charles Geskins was one of the 992 men who graduated from Negro Air Corps pilot training at Tuskegee.
"To see the movie on this now fills me with a sense of pride. It's long overdue," Critton said. "My parents used to tell me about him but it wasn't until I got older that I appreciated it and what all the memorabilia he had meant."