Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Tuskegee Airmen

The Tuskegee Airmen

Philip Brooks
For ages 8 to 10
Compass Point Books, 2005   ISBN: 978-0756506834

When the United States joined the allies in fighting the Axis powers during WWII President Roosevelt called "upon every American to help with the war and protect freedom." Young men from all over the country answered the call to arms including a large number of African- Americans. This group of people soon found that they were going to have to fight two wars: the war against the Axis powers, and the war against the racist policies of their own government for just as they were segregated in restaurants, movie houses and buses, African-Americans were segregated in the military.

Many young African-Americans wanted to serve as pilots but they were not allowed to do so because the powers that be in the Army Air Corps thought that "blacks were not physically or mentally fit to fly."

So a small group of African-Americans set about proving that the military was wrong. They were determined to create a unit of pilots which would do so well that the military, and people all over the country, would have to reevaluate their racist opinions about black people.

Because the Army Air Force would not train them, young black pilots were trained by civilian trainers. Many of these young men got their wings at the Tuskegee Institute, an all black college in Alabama. And yet the military still would not take these qualified pilots. It would take the courage and determination of many and a lawsuit to get the military to agree to create a squadron of African-American pilots. Though this was not quite what they wanted the black pilots accepted the challenge and they ended up creating one of the most successful squadrons in WWII.

This inspirational story describes what it was like to be declined the right to serve ones country in time of war. Hundreds of young black men were eager to fly against the enemy and yet they were thought incapable of doing so. The author beautifully tells the story of both the Tuskegee Airmen and the story of those who supported and helped them in their battle against racism. There can be no doubt that these young men truly earned their wings and the many honors and medals which they brought home from the war.

This book is one of the titles in the We the People series.