Cuba Gooding Jr has revealed that he likes playing men of integrity so he can educate his three children about black history.

The Oscar-winning US actor chooses to be an inspirational role model with parts in Pearl Harbour, Men Of Honour and his new film Red Tails, which is inspired by the true story about the Tuskegee airmen - World War II's first African-American fighter squadron.

"I just try to instil a sense of self-respect and worth, and to let them know that it isn't just slavery we came from," he said before the film's UK premiere in London.

"There's a couple of slave movies like Django Unchained and Twelve Years A Slave coming out now and it's like, 'OK, let's see if we can counter-balance that with the other realities that represent African-American history."

Cuba, who fought for the role of Major Emmanuel Stance in Anthony Hemingway's directorial debut, admitted to being embarrassed by his own lack of knowledge about black men in the war. It is his second portrayal, following a part in 1995's HBO TV series The Tuskegee Airmen.

"When I went to high school, I didn't know that there were blacks that fought in World War II at all. I sure didn't know they did heroic things, so whenever I hear about one of these tales, I jump all over it. They are not really telling many of these stories in Hollywood," he added.

Terrence Howard, Ne-Yo, Method Man and David Oyelowo also star in Red Tails, which is released on June 6.