A Survivor Honoring Our Fallen Heroes
- Good Morning America personality Robin Roberts, 61, took the day off from hosting duties on Memorial Day, a day very special to her family.
- Roberts is the daughter of the late Colonel Lawrence E. Roberts, one of the Tuskegee Airmen, who were the first Black aviators in the U.S. Army Air Corps, which eventually became the U.S. Air Force.
- Roberts has also been through two brave battles of her own, and has survived breast cancer and a bone marrow transplant for MDS (myelodysplastic syndrome), a rare blood disorder that she was diagnosed with five years after breast cancer diagnosis.
- While there are remarkable stories of the Airmen’s bravery in combat, it is a medical experiment that the government conducted on these men that, among some Black people, continues to engender a level of mistrust for doctors and healthcare.
Roberts, a two-time cancer survivor, is the daughter of the late Colonel Lawrence E. Roberts, one of the Tuskegee Airmen, who were the first Black aviators in the U.S. Army Air Corps, which eventually became the U.S. Air Force.Read More
Instead of sharing her usual “Monday Motivation” video and prayer message from her dressing room, Roberts posted a screen grab of her “Daily Word,” that speaks of honoring and remembering those who came before us.
“I may lay flowers on a grave site or participate in a sacred ceremony,” the message reads. “No matter how I remember, the love and respect I hold in my heart keep these dear ones alive forever in my mind and heart.”
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“In a spirit of gratitude and respect, I resolve to fill this day with love, light, peace, and respect,” it concludes, which absolutely sounds like Robin’s daily mantra she practices and encourages others to do. “I will think of them and remember.”
Robin’s Father and The Tuskegee Airmen
The Tuskegee Airmen have been the subject of movies and documentaries, and while there are remarkable stories of their bravery in combat, it is a medical experiment that the government conducted on these men that, among some Black people, continues to engender a level of mistrust for doctors and healthcare.
For Black History Month last year, Roberts screened a documentary called Tuskegee Airmen: Legacy of Courage, a film that aired on the History Channel.
Roberts has also been through two brave battles of her own, and has survived breast cancer and a bone marrow transplant for MDS (myelodysplastic syndrome), a rare blood disorder that she was diagnosed with five years after breast cancer diagnosis.
Unfortunately, her partner Amber Laign, 47, is going through her own breast cancer battle, and Roberts has stood by her side, just as Laign stood by through her battles.
“Forever grateful to my father and his fellow #tuskegeeairmen for their valor and courage,” the TV personality has shared in the past on her Instagram, featuring a photo of the two embracing.
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The first Tuskegee class began training in 1941, and at the time, less than 4,000 African Americans were reportedly serving in the military, and “only twelve African-Americans had become officers,” according to the National World War II Museum. Col. Roberts, who was a New Jersey native, died in 2004 in Biloxi, MS at 81.
Col. Roberts’ obituary from the Houston Chronicle states that he had received his Masters Degree from Tuskegee Institute, and was a graduate of the 44K class of the Tuskegee Airmen.
So many of the doctors we have interviewed here on SurvivorNet have talked about the importance of clinical trials in finding new treatments for various cancers. But for many African-Americans, the concept of clinical trials is tainted.
The Tuskegee syphilis experiment, otherwise known as the “Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male” – a study that ran from 1932 and only ended 40 years later. More than 600 African-American men in Alabama were enrolled in the study by the U.S. Health Service, but the men were never told what the study was truly about and they were never given the proper treatment to cure the disease. In 1997, President Bill Clinton apologized on behalf of the nation.
But that apology has not wiped out the legacy of the past.
Dr. Kathie-Ann Joseph, co-director of the Welters Breast Health Outreach & Navigation Program at NYU Perlmutter Cancer Center, says the work continues in an effort to rebuild trust among some minority communities.
“Having navigators that look like them, speak the language, whether we have a large Hispanic population, Asian population, African American population, that helps a lot,” Dr. Joseph said. “Because we really do strongly believe that clinical trials can offer the best care for patients.”
RIP to Col. Roberts and all of the other military heroes who served our country.