Saturday, November 21, 2015
Black Latino Among Tuskegee Airmen
An exhibit that opened at the City College of New York (CUNY) paid tribute to immigrants from the Dominican Republic who served in the U.S. armed forces during World War II. Among the honorees will be Esteban Hotesse, a Dominican Republic native who immigrated to the country as a child with his mother and little sister. They came through the famous port of Ellis Island.
A determined research associate, Edward De Jesus, at the Dominican Studies Institute at CUNY, made the discovery during a three-year research mission into the role of Dominican servicemen and women who made significant contributions to the war effort or to society.
Hotesse, who enlisted in February 1942, was among a group of 101 Tuskegee Airmen officers arrested for refusing to follow Jim Crow orders from a white commanding officer at a base near Seymour, Indiana where the KKK had a strong presence. This act of disobedience later became known as the Freeman Field Mutiny.
He made second lieutenant before joining the Tuskegee Airmen, the first all-black group of military pilots in the U.S. Armed Forces who made their presence known against the Germans during the war with 1578 combat missions, winning at least one Silver Star, 96 Distinguished Flying Crosses, 14 Bronze Stars, 744 Air Medals, and 8 Purple Heart.
This post should serve as more than a history lesson to black people in the Dominican Republic who, despite their actual skin color, refuse to believe that they are black. Here in the U.S., Dominican Immigrants have been noted for commenting that they are not black, but Dominican. They confuse their race with their nationality.
If Lieutenant Esteban Hotesse were anything other than black, he would have never been subject to Jim Crow laws in KKK territory, let alone having been considered for such a fine unit as the Tuskegee Airmen.