You Can Fly: The Tuskegee Airmen


A dream of flying!   It's 1940 and the world is unsettled.  Posters rise up with the image of Uncle Sam reaching his arm out to say, "Uncle Sam Wants You!"  But the truth is Uncle Sam doesn't want you to fly his planes if you happen to have black skin.

What does it take to overcome racism and prejudice that holds tight to its practices even in the face of an enemy that demands every resource America has to give?  Carole Boston Weatherford researched the history and its revealing primary source documents to paint a picture of the resistance, the courage and the strength it took from civil rights groups, from black journalists, from the first lady, Eleanor Roosevelt, and from the black warriors and their families to change the military's regulations on black pilots in the cockpits.

Verses describe the war that was being fought at home and the war that was being fought overseas, known as the Double V.  Broadening the lens of her focus, she layers the military regulatory battles with the lynchings, Lena Horne, all-black movies, and the enormous efforts it took from so many heroic activists to get the Tuskegee Airmen trained and into the cockpits so they could go forward and defend our troops and sailors from the air in the critical battles in Europe in the final years of World War II.

Her words reflect the dignity, the determination, the need to be even better and the courageous fight to claim a basic right long past the last chapters of the American Civil War.

96 pages   978-1481449380     Ages 8-12

Pacing:  Quick

Tone:  Heroic and Informative

Recommended by:  Barb Langridge,


"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."--from the publisher

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