“I decided blacks should not have the difficulties I had faced, so I opened a flying school to teach other black women how to fly.” –Bessie Coleman
Bessie Coleman believed she could fly way before there ever was a song that ever played over the radio airwaves. Bessie Coleman was born on January 26th 1893, her mother a black woman and her father Native American. The petite and pretty Bessie Coleman dreamed big dreams especially when she saw a plane flying overhead. One day while with a friend she looked up and saw a plane; she whispered to her friend, “I can do that!”From that moment on Bessie Coleman had an insatiable desire to become an aviator; no matter the cost in sweat and toil. The challenges she faced appeared insurmountable; with her black skin, being female she had every right to feel discouraged as all of her applications for aviation school were rejected. In 1919 Bessie Colemen boarded a ship from New York City bound for Europe where she would continue her quest for application to aviation school. Bessie Coleman was warmly greeted when she arrived in Paris, France, her application was accepted and Bessie Coleman took flying lessons from German and French instructors. After receiving her pilot’s license she was hired as a pilot by F0kker’s Aircraft Corporation. Bessie Coleman returned to the United States in 1922 with her international pilot’s license. Bessie Coleman opened up her own aviation school where she taught other black women how to fly. On April 30th 1926, 33-year old Bessie Coleman died during an air show for the Memorial Day celebration. The controls of her airplane jammed and Bessie Coleman was violently catapulted out of the plane and fell to her death. In all the the many essays I have written over the years no one has displayed the determination and persistence as this remarkable woman aviator-Bessie Coleman.
November is Native American Heritage Month*