Black history month day 23: American aviator Bessie Coleman.
Bessie Colman was born January 26, 1892 in Atlanta, Texas as tenth of thirteen children born to sharecroppers George and Susan Coleman. At the age of six, Coleman began walking four miles each day to a segregated one-room schoolhouse, where she loved to read and excelled in math. When she was 23, she moved with her brothers to Chicago and became a manicurist at a barber shop. It was there when she first heard stories of the pilots in World War I and decided she wanted to fly.
At the time, both black and female pilots in the United States were practically unheard of, so Coleman studied French so she could learn flying and get her license in Paris. On June 15, 1921, Coleman became the first woman of Black and Native American descent (as her father was part Choctaw or possibly Cherokee) to earn an aviation pilot’s license and an international aviation license from the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale.
Coleman begin a successful career of stunt flying, saying: “The air is the only place free from prejudices. I knew we had no aviators, neither men nor women, and I knew the Race needed to be represented along this most important line, so I thought it my duty to risk my life to learn aviation.”
Coleman’s dream was to start a school for young black aviators. Unfortunately, On April 30, 1926, she died after being thrown from a malfunctioning plane. But her numerous accomplishments served as inspiration for many future aviators.