Fighting the historical amnesia of both blacks and whites, WORLD for at least the past 15 years has published articles connected with Black History Month. When we learned that left-leaning or poorly taught teachers were ignoring or disparaging Booker T. Washington, we ran a series about his contributions (Feb. 1, 8, 15, 22, 1997). But for many blacks and whites, African-American history begins with Martin Luther King Jr. and (with a bow to Malcolm X) reaches its climax in Barack Obama.
That's a shame. Due to nearly four decades of legal abortion, the U.S. African-American population numbers about 36 million; apart from abortion, it would have been about 52 million. Blacks are losing part of their future, and they should not lose much of their past as well. This section includes articles about two little-known heroes, Robert Russa Moton (Booker T. Washington's successor at the Tuskegee Institute) and Quentin T. Smith, one of the World War II "Tuskegee pilots" who flew out of Moton Field.
An action movie now in theaters, Red Tails, tells the story of that group of African-American flyers who were allowed to take to the sky only because generals were running short of whites ready and able to take to the skies in single combat. The Tuskegee airmen slapped red paint on the tails of their P-47s and destroyed 112 German aircraft in the air and another 150 on the ground. On hundreds of missions they protected bombers from enemy fighter planes.
Our lead story is about the prime protector of District of Columbia children from those who would subject them to the tyranny of low expectations that dominates inner-city public schools. Please go to "Miss Virginia" to read about Virginia Walden Ford, who as a teenager helped to integrate Central High in Little Rock, Ark., and over the past two decades developed and fought to maintain D.C. Opportunity Scholarships. Her perseverance has given 1,615 children in the nation's capital this year an opportunity to capitalize on their God-given brainpower and determination.