Bessie Coleman

Do you know who Bessie Coleman is?


Alexis Murphy, Contributor

Do you know what she is known for? Do you have an idea of the struggle that she went through? How did Bessie Coleman impact the world? How did she become the first African American pilot? Bessie Coleman is the first African American woman to have a pilot license along with being the first African American woman to  stage a public flight.

Bessie Coleman is an outstanding woman that fought for what she wanted and didn’t take no for an answer. She was one of 13 children born  to Susan and George Coleman, who both worked as sharecroppers. Her father, who was of Native American and African American descent, left the family in search of better opportunities in Oklahoma when Bessie was a child. Her mother did her best to support the family, and the children contributed as soon as they were old enough. At 12 years old, Coleman began attending the Missionary Baptist Church in Texas. 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.

In 1922, a time of both gender and racial discrimination, Coleman broke barriers and became the world’s first black 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.

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.  She was an amazing woman that stood her ground no matter what and is an amazing role model for the young girls following in her footsteps. When Bessie began saving to become a pilot the American flight schools did not allow women or African-Americans to be admitted. At the end of the day, Bessie Coleman was an outstanding woman that did what she believed in and followed her dreams. Her actions will be remembered for a very long time along with her legacy.



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