First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt & Cecil Peterson correspondence
Cecil Peterson Collection. Online archives of California
First Lady Roosevelt had shown support for the Tuskegee Airmen training program from its inception after Public Law 18 (April 3, 1939) directed the creation of an African American pilot training programs and following the beginning of the 99th Pursuit Squadron (January 16, 1941). The First Lady had been a champion for the program. She took her famous flight with pioneering aviator and instructor Charles A. Anderson at Tuskegee during 1941. By 1942, she was interested in learning more about the experiences of the pilots, navigators, and support technicians who were training at Tuskegee. To that end, she asked for a pen pal among the recruits to gain a firsthand appreciation of the Tuskegee Airmen. Not surprisingly, because of his dedication and leadership, Cecil Peterson was asked to be that pen pal.