Now called Tuskegee University, the Tuskegee Institute was founded in 1881 as a school for training Black teachers. In 1941, the government contracted Tuskegee Institute to offer primary training for the military’s first Black airmen. The first lady put a spotlight on the Tuskegee program when she visited the Tuskegee Institute in 1941. The Tuskegee Airmen flew these important missions around the Mediterranean theater and racked up an admirable number of hits. Some Tuskegee Airmen were dubbed “red tails.”Tuskegee Airmen Marcellus G. Smith (left) and Roscoe C. Brown work on a plane nicknamed Tootsie in Ramitelli, Italy, in March 1945.