Award-winning author Carole Boston Weatherford’s innovative history in verse celebrates the story of the Tuskegee Airmen: pioneering African-American pilots who triumphed in the skies and past the color barrier.
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.
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 CBWeatherford.com.
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
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
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
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
Fight Song 41
Facing the Enemy 43
Operation Prove Them Wrong 44
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
Author's Note 67
Time Line 69