John C. Robinson, Father of Tuskegee Airmen Became Commander of Ethiopian Air Force

When Italy invaded Ethiopia in 1935, motivated by racist yearnings for colonial dominance, African Americans took note. They recognized the common fight against racial oppression they shared with Ethiopians.

African Americans publicly denounced the invasion. When thousands sought to join the Ethiopian army, they were thwarted by travel restrictions. Among the few African Americans who managed to reach Ethiopia was John C. Robinson. The Mississippi native routinely faced racist barriers en route to becoming a brilliant aviator and aeronautical mechanic. Intimately familiar with the mental and material carnage racism produces, Robinson devoted himself to helping his African brethren avoid subjugation. Fully embraced by Ethiopians, Robinson eventually became Commander of the Ethiopian Air Force.

After Italy’s defeat, Robinson played a key role in developing the country’s first commercial airline, Ethiopian Airlines. His journey to acquire and use aviation knowledge for the benefit of Black people was epic. Perhaps most amazing was his demonstration of how power is borne from partnerships between Africans and citizens of the African diaspora.

Click here to learn more about John C. Robinson, an exemplar of boundless Black self-love.

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