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Tuskegee Airmen honored with Central 70 Project signage

New, permanent “Tuskegee Airmen Memorial Highway” signs now stand over the Central 70 Project.

DENVER — New signs along Interstate 70 in Denver will serve as permanent reminders of the sacrifices the Tuskegee Airmen made protecting our country and the equality for which they fought.

On Thursday, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) unveiled new, permanent sign structures commemorating the Tuskegee Airmen at the Central 70 Project in Denver.

The section of Interstate 70 between York and Peoria streets was originally dedicated to the Tuskegee Airmen, who were the first Black aviators in the U.S. Army Air Corps, a precursor of the U.S. Air Force, in 2006.

As a part of the Central 70 Project, the signs had to be temporarily removed due to construction activities in the area.

Former Colorado Speaker of the House Terrance Carroll and Colorado State Senator James Coleman were at Thursday's ceremony dedicating the signage.

“The Tuskegee Airmen’s legacy is important to uphold,” said CDOT Chief Engineer Steve Harelson. “The Airmen’s incredible demonstration of perseverance, strength and selflessness during hardship are lessons we can still learn from today. We hope that those who travel on I-70 and see this sign are reminded of the sacrifices the Airmen made and the path they paved for a more equitable future.”

Credit: Colorado Department of Transportation

“My dear father, Colonel Marion Raymond Rodgers, was a Tuskegee Airmen P-51 pilot,” said visual artist Denise Vosburgh. “My dad was always calm, an optimist and thought of others first. He never took anything for granted and always faced a challenge head-on.”

The Tuskegee Airmen were founded in 1941 and ceased operation in 1946 after flying more than 15,000 missions during World War II. The Airmen flew during a time when the Army was deeply segregated, and despite returning home to continued racism and prejudice, they represented important progress in preparing the United States for the racial integration of the military.

On July 26, 1948, President Harry Truman issued Executive Order 9981 that officially desegregated the U.S. Armed Forces and mandated equality of opportunity and treatment.

“The Tuskegee Airmen are an inspiration to us all,” said Harelson. “They hurdled obstacles built to hold them and others back, but they never gave up their fight for a better future for generations to come. It’s an honor to have their signs, and their history, as a part of our interstate system.”

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Credit: Colorado Department of Transportation

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