Tuskegee Airmen heroism recognized in Hampton Roads

By Da'Reinn M. Stevens

HAMPTON, Va. – More than 60 years after a group of courageous black men fought pivotal World War II battles, the story of the Tuskegee Airmen has hit the big screen, Hollywood style.

On Jan. 20, Cinebistro at the Peninsula Town Center along with the Tidewater chapter of the Tuskegee Airmen and NASA, all partnered for the premier of "Red Tails." Many students, senior citizens, and military personal attended the event to support the members in attendance.

The ceremony began with the singing of the National Anthem by Retired Master Sgt. Ezra Hill, followed by brief introductions.

Hampton Roads is home to four of the original airmen – two, including Hill, were present.

After the opening ceremony, people filed into the theater to view the film before its official release in the afternoon. Everyone was ready to experience what those very men went through based on "Star Wars" director George Lucas' Hollywood treatment.

The movie began with a 1925 U.S. Army War College study concluding blacks were "mentally inferior" to other American soldiers in wars. The quote took all viewers back to a time of segregation in the United States.

The year was 1944, the place was Italy and the enemies were the Nazis.

Throughout the film, you could hear the Tuskegee Airmen when Col. A.J. Bullard, played by actor Terrance Howard, would stand up to the brass in support of his men.

"The film was amazing because it displayed how hard Negro airmen had to fight through countless adversities just to be treated equally" said Sean Moore, a Hampton University aviation student.

Following the movie, Tidewater chapter President T.J. Spann hosted a question- and answer- session with Tuskegee Airmen Grant Williams and MSG Hill. Although neither man was a pilot – they served in support units – they still played important parts in the war.

"It was very hard for Americans to accept black pilots," said Williams, "and that didn't change until the war was over." Williams also said the movie did a good job of showing the friendship and partnership among the men.

At the end of the session, the men let the audience know that there were 18 women who served as nurses during the war and are too part of the Tuskegee Airmen.

While the women weren't depicted in the film, they still held a special place in the airmen's hearts.

The writer is a student at the Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications.

Eat, play, work: HU students experience good life in Cannes

By Louis Washington

College students apply by the dozens every year for Creative Minds in Cannes program. The Cannes Film Festival in France is arguably the world's most prominent film fest.

A number of Hampton University students have made the trip to participate in the festivities.

Three years ago Robert Ford, founder of the Creative Minds in Cannes program, visited Hampton University to speak with students as part of an event set up by Eleanor Earl, English professor and cinema studies program coordinator.

Last year, the Daily Press of Newport News-Hampton ran an article about the students from 2010 who traveled to participate in the Cannes Film fest. They included Jennifer Ibe, a 2011 graduate and print journalism major. Ibe found out about the program while she was in a fashion design class. Ford spoke to her class. She applied at the beginning of the semester and accepted by Thanksgiving. She was among 70 student worldwide chosen to participate in "Creative Minds in Cannes," where she got to do hands-on film and public relations work at the festival.

"I worked with a PR company, Rogers & Cowan that is based out of L.A.," said Ibe. "I helped do PR work for the film titled 'Moomins in 3D.' Some of my duties were to do media kits, attend press events, edit and wrote bios for some of the actors and I also handled the press for actress Helena Mattsson, who starred in 'Iron Man 2.'"

Last summer, 12 Hampton U. students participated in Cannes, which was the highest number yet. There were 30 students from across the USA. They seemed to be in good company because there were also 3,959 companies in attendance. Each student was assigned to work with a company to work in a challenging public relations type of environment with the film company clients. Duties of the students in attendance included participating in workshops and film screenings.

Among the students to participate were Derek Garlington, senior broadcast journalism major, and Imani Carter, senior English major. They also had opportunities to plan parties, network and gain knowledge about the public relations aspect of the film industry.

"I interned with a company called the Film Stage," said Carter, "They are an online company that produces movie reviews and interviews with actors/actresses and directors. While I was there I was able to write a movie review that was published on their site, and I transcribed interviews that were done with major actors and directors of some of the movies that were premiered."

Garlington, who also worked with Rogers & Cowan as a returning intern, said he had one of the best summers of his life with the Creative Minds in Cannes program: "The experience was absolutely breathtaking. I felt like a real intern running around and delivering invitations for one of the biggest parties in Cannes. Organizing press releases, handling talent, making them feel comfortable, doing research and more running around.

"The best way I can explain it is I felt like a real useful intern."

Garlington was there for two weeks but he received a taste of the good life and had a brush with a few celebrities and important people in the music and film industry.

"My biggest wow moment was getting invited to a party with Kanye [West] and Pharrell [Williams] on their yacht," he said. "That moment was so surreal but the moment that topped it all off was having a drink with Miss America 2010. I didn't realize it was her until halfway through our conversation. And she was so down to earth and cool."

A trip to participate in the Cannes Film Festival is estimated to cost a student approximately $3,500. There were sponsorships and scholarships available for some students to obtain. The program did not discriminate against students based on their academic majors.

"The program offered me financial aid, but that was only $100 or so off the total price," said Carter, "so I basically had to pay out of pocket, besides for a few people who gave me money in support of the cause."

Although this program is not a typical full summer internship – normally six weeks or 150 work hours – the competitiveness and challenge of it should make a great resume booster for all those who participate.

The exciting summers that those adolescents experienced should certainly spark more interest for the program around the Hampton University campus as well as other colleges and universities.

"The program does not spoon feed you at all," Carter said, "so you would have to go there knowing what you want to do, what you want to see, and who you want to talk to. I would definitely recommend the program to students who are into film and journalism and public relations."

Every year the number of students who go increase. Next summer should be no different. This program is a great opportunity for students at Hampton to study abroad and gain experience in public relations and film and also boost their resumes.

Said Garlington," Every day I'd find a new, cool location or event and think, I really didn't even get to experience that to the fullest because there are so many things to do.

"My advice is do not sleep; it's for the weak. You can sleep when you get home. I probably slept four hours on average and loved every single moment of it."

The writer is a student at the Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications.