A Woman to Know: Bessie Coleman
|Julia Carpenter||Mar 24, 2016|
The air is the only place free from prejudices. — Bessie
(Bessie's pilot license, image via Wikimedia Commons)
Bessie Coleman wanted to fly, but flight schools in America didn't admit black students. So she taught herself French, moved to Europe and enrolled in Parisian flight school, where she graduated top of her class — two whole years before her more-famous counterpart, Amelia Earhart, would earn her wings.
Bessie drew crowds with tours on the air show circuit, winning hearts with her daredevil tricks *and* her strong stance on only participating in integrated aviation shows.
All her barrel rolls, figure eights and in-air stunts proved profitable. But Bessie was saving the money — she wanted to use her notoriety to start the first African-American flying school. As she so simply put it, "I decided blacks should not have to face the difficulties I had faced. So, I decided to open a flying school and teach other black women to fly."
Add to your reading list:
Queen Bessie: Daredevil Aviator (Doris L. Rich)
Nobody Owns the Sky (Reeve Lindbergh)
The Life of Bessie Coleman (Connie Plantz)
The enduring legacy of badass aviator Bessie Coleman (The Frisky)
Early black pilot found racial equality in the sky (The Los Angeles Times)
Jacksonville must never forget brave Bessie Coleman (The Florida Star)
23 reasons to celebrate Black History Month: No. 13, Bessie Coleman (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
Top 10 inspiring female adventurers (The Guardian)
Orlando renames street in honor of black "daredevil aviatrix" (The Orlando Sentinel)
Fly Girls: Bessie Coleman (PBS American Experience)
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