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Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Theme Unit
The Dreams of Heroes (part 2)



The Dreams of Heroes (part 2)
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   high interest, readability grades 3 to 5
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   2.28

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    all-black, bomber, creed, decency, discrimination, fliers, high-water, knowing, pulsed, racism, rally, spiritual, Yessir, anthem, mass, unit
     content words:    World War II, Tuskegee Airmen-an, Uncle Ray, By Tuesday, Joan Baez, Mahalia Jackson, Thank God Almighty, Shall Overcome, But Jace


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The Dreams of Heroes (part 2)
By Toni Lee Robinson
  

1     "You knew your dad was a pilot in World War II," Ray said. "He was one of the Tuskegee Airmen—an all-black unit. He flew a fighter plane. Yessir!" Ray said proudly. "They escorted bomb runs over Europe. Never lost one bomber to German planes."
 
2     His voice got quiet. "Otis saw lots of his buddies die. Those fliers gave everything for their country," he said. "It didn't change anything. When they came home, they were still called ugly names. Couldn't drink at the same fountains as whites. Couldn't eat at the same cafes." Ray shook his head. "Prejudice is an ugly thing," he said. "It don't make much sense."
 
3     "After WWII was over, your dad started his own war. A one-man battle with racism. He and your mom moved south. Otis went back to school. Took law so he could help people fight discrimination."
 
4     Jace listened, fascinated. It sure didn't sound like his dad was any kind of a coward. "So why won't he have anything to do with the fight now?" Jace asked.
 
5     Ray was quiet for a moment. He glanced at Jace. "Sorry, bud. It's a fair question. You need an answer. But it has to come from your dad, not from me."
 
6     Jace groaned. Dad would never tell him anything. Jace sure wasn't going to ask. That would bring an eruption for sure. Best to leave smoking volcanoes lie. Yet knowing something of the past helped some. Jace felt more connected to his father than he had for a long time.
 
7     Late in the day, Jace and Uncle Ray drove into Washington. It was Monday, August 26. The big march was two days away. By Tuesday, the city felt like it was bursting at the seams. Every square inch was packed with people. Officials feared rioting and violence. The game Jace and his uncle had planned to see was cancelled.
 
8     The next day, people lined the streets. The whole city pulsed with energy. Police were everywhere. Waves of people made their way to where the rally would begin. Jace and Ray found themselves swept up in the human current. They ended up near the speakers' platform. Cool! Jace thought. A front row seat!
 
9     "I told your dad I'd keep you out of the storm. Looks like I'm not doing a very good job," Ray said ruefully.

Paragraphs 10 to 25:
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