"Black Wings" Exhibit Opens at National Air and Space Museum 09/1982




Date: September 1982


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the National Air and Space Museum opens "Black Wings", the now permanent exhibit on the Tuskegee Airmen. The journey began in 1977 when Robert Trip, an African American school teacher from Virginia, noticed there was no African American representation at NASM. He began a campaign to change this, and in 1982 got in contact with Louis Purnell, a curator at the National Air and Space Museum and California Representative Ronald V. Dellums who were instrumental in the opening of the exhibit.


  • Purnell, Louis R
  • Dellums, Ronald V. 1935-
  • Trip, Robert
  • National Air and Space Museum
  • United States Army Air Forces Fighter Group, 332nd
  • Smithsonian Institution Exhibitions
  • Black Wings: The American Black in Aviation (Exhibition) (1982-2016: National Air and Space Museum)


Chronology of Smithsonian History


  • For more information, see Louis Purnell Oral History Interviews, Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 9578
  • Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 9578, Purnell, Louis R. interviewee, Louis R. Purnell Interviews

Contact information

Institutional History Division, Smithsonian Institution Archives, 600 Maryland Avenue, SW, Washington, D.C. 20024-2520, SIHistory@si.edu


September 1982


  • Curators
  • Exhibit openings
  • Exhibitions
  • Regents
  • African Americans

Full Record

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