Bessie Coleman

Bessie Coleman

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I refused to take no for an answer.


I decided blacks should not have to experience the difficulties I had faced, so I decided to open a flying school and teach other black women to fly.

If I can create the minimum of my plans and desires, there shall be no regrets.


Bessie Coleman one of 13 children was born on January 26, 1892 in Atlanta, Texas.

At 12 years old, Coleman began attending the Missionary Baptist Church. After graduating, she embarked on a journey to Oklahoma to attend the Oklahoma Colored Agricultural and Normal University (Langston University), where she completed only one term due to financial constraints.

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At 23 in 1915, Coleman moved to Chicago, where she worked as a manicurist. Not long after her move she began listening to and reading stories of World War I pilots, which sparked her interest in aviation.

In 1922, a time of both gender and racial discrimination, Coleman broke barriers and became the world's first Native and African-American woman to earn a pilot's license. Because flying schools in the United States denied her entry, she took it upon herself to learn French and move to France to achieve her goal. After only seven months, Coleman earned her license from France's well known Caudron Brother's School of Aviation.

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Though she wanted to start a flying school for African Americans when she returned to the U.S., Coleman specialized in stunt flying and parachuting, and earned a living barnstorming and performing aerial tricks. In 1922, she became the first African-American woman in America to make a public flight

April of 1926, Coleman was tragically killed at only 34 years old when an accident during a rehearsal for an aerial show sent her plummeting to her death. Coleman remains a pioneer of women in the field of aviation.

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