You Can Fly: The Tuskegee Airmen

You Can Fly: The Tuskegee Airmen


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In this “masterful, inspiring evocation of an era” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review), award-winning author Carole Boston Weatherford “wields the power of poetry to tell [the] gripping historical story” (Publishers Weekly, starred review) of the Tuskegee Airmen: pioneering African-American pilots who triumphed in the skies and past the color barrier during World War II.

I WANT YOU! says the poster of Uncle Sam. But if you’re a young black man in 1940, he doesn’t want you in the cockpit of a war plane. Yet you are determined not to let that stop your dream of flying.

So when you hear of a civilian pilot training program at Tuskegee Institute, you leap at the chance. Soon you are learning engineering and mechanics, how to communicate in code, how to read a map. At last the day you’ve longed for is here: you are flying!

From training days in Alabama to combat on the front lines in Europe, this is the story of the Tuskegee Airmen, the groundbreaking African-American pilots of World War II. In vibrant second-person poems, Carole Boston Weatherford teams up for the first time with her son, artist Jeffery Weatherford, in a powerful and inspiring book that allows readers to fly, too.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781481449397
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Publication date: 07/04/2017
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 96
Sales rank: 300,099
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 7.40(h) x 0.40(d)
Age Range: 9 - 12 Years

About the Author

Carole Boston Weatherford has written many award-winning books for children, including Caldecott Honor winners Freedom in Congo Square; Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer, Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement; and Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom. Her recent books include By and By, The Roots of Rap, Be a King, How Sweet the Sound, In Your Hands, and The Legendary Miss Lena Horne. Carole lives in North Carolina. Visit her at

Jeffery Boston Weatherford created the scratchboard illustrations for You Can Fly using archival World War II photographs as reference. Jeffery studied art at Winston-Salem State University, where he was a Chancellor’s Scholar, and at Howard University, where he earned a Master of Fine Arts.

Read an Excerpt

You Can Fly Head to the Sky
No matter that there are only 130

licensed black pilots in the whole nation.

Your goal of being a pilot cannot be grounded

by top brass claiming blacks are not fit to fly.

Your vision of planes cannot be

blocked by clouds of doubt.

The engine of your ambition will not brake

for walls of injustice—no matter how high.

The sky’s no limit if you’ve flown

on your own power in countless dreams;

not if you’ve raised homing pigeons

on Harlem rooftops;

or watched crop dusters

buzzing over rows of cotton;

not if you’ve gazed at stars

and known God meant for you to soar.

Table of Contents

Head to the Sky 1

The Civilian Pilot Training Program 2

Train Ride to the Clouds 4

A Shot 5

The First Cadets 7

Officers 9

The Odds 10

Keep 'Em Flying: Tuskegee Army Airfield Nurses 12

Ground School 14

Solo, At Last 16

Sugar, Sugar 18

The Other War 19

Downtime 20

Training Planes 22

Pearl Harbor 24

Dorie Miller Earns the Navy Cross 26

Private Joe Louis 28

Fighting Boredom 31

Second Lieutenant 32

William Henry Hastie 34

The Double V Campaign: Pens Mighty as Swords 36

Anxious 39

Fight Song 41

Facing the Enemy 43

Operation Prove Them Wrong 44

Routines 46

Lena Home: More than a Pin-Up 49

Red Tail Angels 51

The Black Birdmen 53

Your Record 55

No Hero's Welcome 57

A Long Line 59

Epilogue 63

Author's Note 67

Time Line 69

Resources 77

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