Black Angels Over Tuskegee, Layon Gray’s acclaimed Off‑Broadway play about the heroic Tuskegee Airmen, appears at the Mattie Kelly Arts Center at Northwest Florida State College in Niceville as a nationally touring Guest Event Friday, Oct. 7, at 7:30 p.m.
The award‑winning docudrama has performed to rave reviews across the nation, including notable appearances at the Smithsonian Institute and World War II Museum in Washington, D.C. The play is based on true events of the Tuskegee Airmen who conquered isolation and prejudice to become one of the most highly respected fighter groups of World War II, forming the 99th Pursuit Squadron.
Tickets are $37.50 each and are available from the Box Office at 850‑729‑6000 or online at MattieKellyArtsCenter.org. Tickets will also be available at the door on show night, space permitting.
Vibrantly energetic and emotionally captivating, Black Angels Over Tuskegee is now in its sixth year at St. Luke’s Theatre in New York City. The production has received praise from top critics including the New York Times, which described the performance as “uplifting and inspirational” and “tough to resist.”
Original Tuskegee Airman Ted Lumpkin, president of the Los Angeles chapter, said, “I love this play. It’s real, and it reminded me of my times at Tuskegee. It’s a great show.”
The play regularly tours across the United States and internationally, shedding light on these inspiring American heroes. In the drama, six men explore their collective struggle with Jim Crow, their intelligence, patriotism, dreams of an inclusive fair society, and brotherhood, as they become the first African‑American fighter pilots in the U.S. Army Air Forces during World War II.
Black Angels goes beyond the headlines of the popular stories of the Tuskegee Airmen and reveals the men who exhibited the courage to excel in spite of all the overwhelming odds against them. The play won an NAACP Award for Best Ensemble, a New York Audelco Award for Special Achievement and an Artistic Director Achievement Award for Best Play.
The play has also been performed for professional sports teams like the New York Jets, the National Urban League, national NAACP and more. It was also presented at the National Tuskegee Airmen Convention in Las Vegas for over 30 chapters.
The men depicted in Gray’s play came together to participate in the Army Air Corps program, which sought to train and prepare African‑Americans to fly and maintain combat aircraft. The group included pilots, navigators, bombardiers, maintenance, instructors and support staff personnel charged with keeping the planes operable and in the air.
The Tuskegee Airmen conquered isolation and prejudice to become one of the most highly respected fighter groups of World War II, forming the 99th Pursuit Squadron. They proved conclusively that African‑Americans could fly and maintain sophisticated combat aircraft. The Tuskegee Airmen’s achievements paved the way for full integration of the U.S. military.
For more information about the play, visit BlackAngelsOverTuskegee.com. Black Angels Over Tuskegee is produced Off‑Broadway by Edmund Gaynes and the Layon Gray Experience. Video previews are available on the Mattie Kelly Arts Center website, and the drama is suitable for the entire family and recommended for middle school‑aged students and higher.
The Oct. 7 performance is presented by DAL Consulting Group. Sponsorship opportunities are available to assist with bringing this historic event to the Emerald Coast. For sponsorship details, contact Dedria A. Lunderman at 850‑865‑5069 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Mattie Kelly Arts Center is a non‑profit entity of Northwest Florida State College located at 100 College Boulevard. A portion of all Box Office proceeds support NWF State College student scholarships.
‑ Sylvia Bryan
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