LANSING — This morning, the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee for the Michigan House of Representatives unanimously passed legislation to designate all of Interstate 75 in the state of Michigan as the Tuskegee Airmen Memorial Highway. House Bill 5064, sponsored by Representative David Rutledge (D-Superior Township) joins the efforts of several states with the goal of designating the entire I-75 corridor from Miami, Fla., to Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. after the Tuskegee Airmen.

“As an Air Force veteran, I am honored to lead the effort in Michigan to join this multi-state recognition bestowed upon our trailblazing Tuskegee Airmen,” stated Rep. Rutledge. “I’m so proud that Michigan will be part of this interstate effort, and I can think of no better way to show our country’s continued gratification for the committed service of these servicemen.”

Before 1940, African-Americans were barred from flying for the U.S. military. Civil rights organizations exerted pressure that resulted in the formation of an all African-American pursuit squadron based in Tuskegee, Alabama, in 1941. Regardless of race, the Tuskegee Airmen included pilots, navigators, bombardiers, maintenance and support staff, instructors, and the personnel who kept the planes in the air. The term “Tuskegee Airmen” refers to all who were involved in the so-called “Tuskegee Experience,” the Army Air Corps program to train African-Americans to fly and maintain combat aircraft.

“The Tuskegee Airmen are true American heroes who fought valiantly for our country and our values,” said Rep. Wayne Schmidt (R-Traverse City) chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. “Their contribution to protecting our country during a tumultuous time in history cannot be repaid. The Tuskegee Airmen fought fascism overseas and racism at home, so we’ll do what we can to give those excellent men and their families continued, deserved respect.”

House Bill 5064 now goes before the full House of Representatives for consideration.