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American Wings

By Sherri L. Smith & Elizabeth Wein
American Wings by Sherri L. Smith & Elizabeth Wein digital book - Fable

Publisher Description

From the acclaimed author of Flygirl and the bestselling author of Code Name Verity comes the thrilling and inspiring true story of the desegregation of the skies.

“This beautiful and brilliant history of not only what it means to be Black and dream of flying but to, against every odd, do so, completely blew me away.” —Jacqueline Woodson, National Book Award Winner for Brown Girl Dreaming

In the years between World War I and World War II, aviation fever was everywhere, including among Black Americans. But what hope did a Black person have of learning to fly in a country constricted by prejudice and Jim Crow laws, where Black aviators like Bessie Coleman had to move to France to earn their wings?

American Wings follows a group of determined Black Americans: Cornelius Coffey and Johnny Robinson, skilled auto mechanics; Janet Harmon Bragg, a nurse; and Willa Brown, a teacher and social worker. Together, they created a flying club and built their own airfield south of Chicago. As the U.S. hurtled toward World War II, they established a school to train new pilots, teaching both Black and white students together and proving, in a time when the U.S. military was still segregated, that successful integration was possible.

Featuring rare historical photographs, American Wings brings to light a hidden history of pioneering Black men and women who, with grit and resilience, battled powerful odds for an equal share of the sky.

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About Sherri L. Smith

Sherri L. Smith is not a pilot, but she makes an excellent passenger (unless it’s a very small plane). She is the author of numerous acclaimed fiction and nonfiction books for young people, including Flygirl, the winner of the California Book Awards’ Gold Medal; The Blossom and the Firefly, the winner of the Golden Kite Award from the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators; Orleans; and Who Were the Tuskegee Airmen? She teaches creative writing at Hamline University. Born in Chicago, Sherri now lives in Los Angeles. Learn more at SherriLSmith.com and follow her on Twitter @Sherri_L_Smith.

Elizabeth Wein is a recreational pilot and the owner of about a thousand maps. She is the author of several young adult novels, including Code Name Verity, an Edgar Award winner and a #1 New York Times bestseller; Black Dove, White Raven, winner of the Children’s Africana Book Award; and most recently, Stateless. Her book A Thousand Sisters: The Heroic Airwomen of the Soviet Union in World War II was a finalist for YALSA’s Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults Award. A dual American-British citizen, Elizabeth lives in Scotland. Learn more at ElizabethWein.com and follow her on Twitter @EWein2412.

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