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Boeing to sponsor ESPN’s Red Tails Classic honoring HBCUs and Tuskegee Airmen

Boeing on Friday announced that it has signed a three-year agreement to become the title sponsor of ESPN Events’ inaugural Red Tails Classic college football kickoff game.

ESPN Events earlier this year announced the creation of the Red Tails Classic, which will celebrate historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and honor the Tuskegee Airmen who fought in World War II.

The inaugural game of the Boeing Red Tails Classic will take place on Sunday, Sept. 5, at the historic Cramton Bowl in Montgomery, where Tuskegee University will face off against Fort Valley State University. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. CST on ESPNU.

Clint Overby, vice president of ESPN Events, says Boeing’s record as a leader in the aerospace and defense industry makes them the “perfect fit” as sponsor.

“As ESPN honors the legacy and perseverance of the Tuskegee Airmen, we are proud to welcome Boeing as the title sponsor for this historic event,” said Overby. “Boeing’s pioneering history in aerospace makes them the perfect fit for this matchup, as we continue to highlight college football and the importance of HBCUs.”

Boeing’s current T-7A Red Hawk advanced pilot training system pays tribute to the legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen.

Overby said the aerospace giant is excited to honor the contributions of the Tuskegee Airmen and HBCUs.

“Boeing is pleased to pay tribute to the Tuskegee Airmen and celebrate the contributions of HBCU graduates by sponsoring ESPN Events’ inaugural Red Tails Classic,” said Colbert. “As a proud HBCU graduate, I am gratified by Boeing’s dedicated efforts to advance a more equitable future for our employees and our communities.”

Boeing has undertaken initiatives over the past decade which aim to support underserved communities and minority populations. According to the company, it has invested more than $10 million in HBCU partnerships and increased HBCU intern hiring by more than 400%.

Trained and based in Alabama, the Tuskegee Airmen were the first black military aviators for the U.S. Army Corps who fought in World War II. The Airmen flew more than 15,000 individual sorties in Europe and North Africa over a two-year span. Their historic service directly contributed to the desegregation of the U.S. Armed Forces.

The moniker “Red Tails” stems from the Airmen painting the tails of their aircraft red in order to stand out among other units. The B-25 Mitchell bomber, which was used by the Tuskegee Airmen in training, was manufactured by Boeing’s North American Aviation.

In a display of the company’s commitment to supporting HBCUs, Boeing officials earlier this month visited the campus of Alabama A&M and noted that the college was a “key HBCU,” recognizing the school’s contributions to the local and state economy. The aerospace giant has held a presence in the Yellowhammer State for more than 50 years, supporting an array of United States’ space and defense programs.

Dylan Smith is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @DylanSmithAL

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