— Jazzi Black (@ohshemakevideos) January 13, 2017
ABC’s star-studded “Taking the Stage: African American Music and Stories That Changed America” included an array of appearances from various icons who celebrated Black achievements and contributions. But, it was a tribute to the surviving members of the Tuskegee Airmen that stopped the show and brought both live attendees and viewers at home to tears.
The special, which was taped Sept. 23 and aired Thursday, Jan. 12, took place at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. It coincided with the grand opening of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture.
Although the likes of Stevie Wonder, Mary J. Blige, John Legend, Gladys Knight and Jesse Williams were included in the lineup, it was the seven Air Force honorees who welled up the audience’s eyes.
When actor Tom Hanks introduced the airmen as a military choir sang “America the Beautiful,” a packed house rose to its feet. After President Barack Obama gave a salute from the balcony, former Secretary of State Gen. Colin Powell graced the stage to shake the veterans’ hands.
On Twitter, many were as emotional as those on TV.
André Daughtry was sobbing.
— André J. Daughtry ♿♒ (@Tripping_Crutch) January 13, 2017
@ADenefieldJones said she couldn’t keep her eyes dry.
— A. Denefield Jones (@ADenefieldJones) January 13, 2017
Boogie immediately adopted the airmen into her family.
Tuskegee Airmen? I am covered in salty tears in the best way possible #TakingTheStage They are all my grandpas now. 😭😭
— Boogie (@LikeAFineWino) January 13, 2017
Kellie Dupree shed some unexpected tears.
Wow, didn't expect to cry when the Tuskegee airman came out. #TakingTheStage
— Kellie Dupree (@kelliedupes) January 13, 2017
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Sherrae Lachhu stated she couldn’t be average because of the tribute.
The Tuskegee Airmen literally brought me to tears. When I see and hear of their bravery how dare I be mediocre? Excellence. #TakingTheStage
— Sherrae Lachhu (@sherraelachhu) January 13, 2017
Makho Ndlovu also remarked on the feelings of the night.
— Makho Ndlovu (@makhondlovu) January 13, 2017
Nwanyi Oma was inspired by the airmen.
7 surviving members of THE Tuskegee Airman. Serious chills. Nobody can tell me you CAN'T achieve your goals bc you're black #TakingTheStage
— Nwanyi Oma (@belle_reveur) January 13, 2017
Alabama native Vic Walker gave the vets his admiration.
Tuskegee Airmen….I salute you. Nothing but respect from this Bama born dude. #TakingTheStage
— Vic Walker (@victorjwalker) January 13, 2017
Rudolph Braxton said the airmen filled him with pride.
Seeing the Tuskegee Airmen makes you proud to be an African American! God bless you gentlemen and thank you #TakingTheStage
— Rudolph Braxton (@bifbravo00) January 13, 2017