The Power of Team: The Tuskegee Airmen

In 1944 the Walterboro Army Air Field became an advanced combat training base for fighter pilots. These fighters were primarily the African-American trainees graduating from the Tuskegee Army Air Field in Tuskegee, Alabama. Over five hundred of the famous Tuskegee Airmen trained at at Walterboro between April 1944 and October 1945.

The Tuskegee Airmen were the first African-American military pilots in the United States Armed Forces. During World War II, many black Americans were still subject to the Jim Crow laws and the American military was racially segregated. The Tuskegee Airmen were subjected to discrimination, both within and outside the army, even though they were serving their nation. It did not stop their mission.

Their teamwork, professionalism and their pride in service gave them high honor and caused a monumental shift of both thought and practice. They had broken a barrier that was previously thought impossible to overcome. It was a tribute to the power of team, vision, and the sheer willingness to “put up with the junk” for a bigger purpose. I thank God for those men who served our country and made a huge difference in the future of the social climate of the United States of America.

As an organizational leader, I hope that you, like the Tuskegee Airmen, can capture a bigger vision of service. And furthermore that you are willing to train the team, “put up with the junk” and follow through on the mission before you. Too many leaders are trying to change organizational culture on their own. It doesn’t work. You need a team of unified, highly trained warriors to make the difference.

If you will put that team together, train them to fight, and empower them to lead… no barrier will be left unbroken.

Leadership Minute filmed at the Tuskegee Airmen Memorial

Bits and Pieces

Some say that church is still the most segregated place in the nation. I disagree. The diversity found in our church plants is inspiring. While on a recent trip to Florida I ate at a restaurant that made me think about how diversity, intentionally engaged, is a beautiful thing.

The Columbia Restaurant is the oldest restaurant in Florida and is still owned and operated by the Hernadez-Gonzmart family which started this amazing place in 1905. While Ybor city is most famous for the Cigar industry that thrived there in the late 1800’s, it is also famous for the origination of the famous Cuban Sandwich. The staple of the Columbia.

You see, the workers that made the cigars and the owners and operators of the cigar factories came from all over the World, and like every good factory, the workers needed a place to eat and the famous cuban sandwich was born by the collision of all these cultures: The Spanish brought the fine ham, the Sicilian’s brought the salami, the Cubans brought the mojo marinated roast pork, and the Germans and Jews brought the Swiss cheese, pickles and mustard. They threw all those together on some fresh baked Tampa/Cuban bread and this amazing sandwich was born.

There is a great lesson to learn from this small bit of history. As church planters, if you can appeal to a multitude of cultures, expressions, and peoples in your geography, and put those together in an explosion of praise for the worship of Jesus, something incredible might come of it. Something that will withstand the test of time, and bring fame to His kingdom.

Here is the video I filmed on location at the Columbia Restaurant