Melanie Coen
Dole Institute of Politics

Kevin Willmott talk planned with screenings of Tuskegee Airmen film

Mon, 04/01/2013

LAWRENCE — The Dole Institute of Politics and the University of Kansas Libraries will host a program on the Tuskegee Airmen, the nation’s first African-American military aviators, featuring KU professor Kevin Willmott. Willmott will look at the historical and racial significance of their service through the film lens in the program, “The Tuskegee Airmen: 'Red Tails' Examined by Kevin Willmott.”

The program is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 9, at the Dole Institute of Politics, 2350 Petefish Drive. This program also includes two free screenings of the movie “Red Tails” on Tuesday, April 2, at 2:30 p.m. in the Simons Media Room of the Dole Institute and at 7 p.m. in the Centennial Room of the Kansas Union. Movie snacks will be provided.

“Willmott’s interest in the medium of war films and his work related to what it’s like to be African-American make him uniquely qualified to shed light on the contributions of these servicemen,” said Dole Institute director Bill Lacy. “The use of film allows us to go back in American history and retell important events for generations to come.”

Willmott is associate professor of film and media studies at KU and has written, directed and produced for the stage, the screen and television. His play, “T-Money and Wolf,” co-written with Ric Averill, was selected for a series by the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. Several of his movie scripts have been purchased by major movie studios, such as 20th Century Fox, and director Oliver Stone hired Willmott to co-write “Little Brown Brothers,” a movie about the Philippine insurrection.  For television, Willmott co-wrote “House of Getty” and “The ‘70's,” both mini-series for NBC. “The 70's” aired in May of 2000.

Most recently Willmott authored “Colored Men,” a screenplay about the Houston riot of 1917. He also adapted "The Watsons Go to Birmingham" for CBS, Columbia Tri-Star and Executive Producer Whoopi Goldberg. His recent film, “CSA: The Confederate States of America,” is about the United States had the South won the Civil War.

“Red Tails” is a 2012 American war film produced by Lucasfilm and released by 20th Century Fox. The film is a fictionalized portrayal of the Tuskegee Airmen, a group of African-American United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) servicemen during World War II.

The “Red Tails” program is the third event in a series on African-Americans in World War II that is the result of a partnership between the Dole Institute and KU Libraries and made possible by KU Associate Professor Sandra Gautt, a member of the KU Libraries Board of Advocates. Also at the Dole Institute in April is a temporary exhibit sponsored by Spencer Research Library. Titled “World War II and African Americans in the Kansas Region,” it features some of the area’s military and civilian contributions to WWII through photographs, documents, correspondence, a Tuskegee Airman uniform and a small model of the earliest plane flown by the Tuskegee Airmen.

“This program honors the soldiers who fought for the right to fight. Our African-American World War II veterans proved that courage has no color,” said Lorraine Haricombe, dean of the KU Libraries. “We are delighted with the opportunity to partner with the Dole Institute in bringing to the community this stirring discussion and inside look at this inspiring film.”

The program is co-sponsored by the KU Department of African and African-American Studies, KU Filmworks, KU Black Student Union and the Langston Hughes Center and Arnold Air Society, also at KU.

For more information on this or any Dole Institute programs, visit or call (785) 864-4900. The Dole Institute of Politics is dedicated to promoting public service, civic engagement and politics. It is located on KU’s west campus next to the Lied Center.

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